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Press Release

Raleigh County man sentenced to five years in federal prison for witness tampering crime

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A Raleigh County man was sentenced today to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine for a witness tampering crime, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Mark Radcliffe, 60, of Shady Spring, was convicted in October 2016 of conspiracy to tamper with a witness following a three-day jury trial.

On December 23, 2015, Seth Radcliffe, the son of Mark Radcliffe, was facing kidnapping charges in an unrelated case. Witnesses for the United States testified at trial that Mark Radcliffe directed Jimmie Harper, a codefendant, to take actions to illegally influence Seth Radcliffe’s case. Harper testified that immediately following Seth Radcliffe’s arrest for kidnapping on December 23, 2015, he and Mark Radcliffe began discussing how they needed to get a witness to minimize Seth Radcliffe’s actions. Harper further testified that he and Mark Radcliffe formed a plan on December 24, 2015, to have a witness lie to law enforcement about the kidnapping.

Harper additionally testified that on January 24, 2016, he met with witnesses in Seth Radcliffe’s case in an attempt to influence testimony before a federal grand jury. Before the meeting, Harper testified that he spoke to Mark Radcliffe about the plan and obtained a letter written by Seth Radcliffe that was read aloud during the meeting. Harper also testified that during the same meeting, at Mark Radcliffe’s direction, he emphasized that the kidnapping charges against Seth Radcliffe needed to go away because of the severe penalties. Harper additionally testified that he suggested, also at Mark Radcliffe’s direction, limiting answers that could be damaging to Seth Radcliffe by responding with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Harper testified that Seth Radcliffe’s letter was not factually correct, and that he and Mark Radcliffe intended to corruptly influence witness testimony.

Text messages and phone calls admitted into evidence during the trial showed significant communication between Mark Radcliffe and Jimmie Harper prior to Harper’s meeting with the witnesses. Additionally, calls between Seth Radcliffe and Mark Radcliffe that were also admitted into evidence showed extensive communication regarding an unlawful strategy to get Seth Radcliffe’s charges dismissed.

During the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Irene C. Berger stated that the defendant’s “conduct evidences clear disrespect for the law and criminal justice system,” and that the defendant’s actions “revictimized the target of the kidnapping.”

Harper was sentenced in August 2016 to seven years in federal prison for an unrelated federal arson crime, followed by a consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison for the witness tampering crime.

The West Virginia State Police, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the North Carolina State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Monica D. Coleman and Haley Bunn are in charge of the prosecution and tried the case before a federal jury. United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the case and imposed the sentence.

Updated May 10, 2017