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Prisoner Convicted of Retaliating Against Federal Witness

On August 21, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence of a man accused of retaliating against a federal witness.

Carl Pursley, Jr. and Wendell Wardell were charged with tax fraud. The government’s star witness was Jessie Cluff. Pursley and Wardell knew that Cluff was coming to testify, so they subpoenaed two other prisoners to testify on their behalf. The real purpose for the other prisoners coming was not to testify, though; it was to attack Cluff for testifying.

After Cluff finished testifying, Cluff was beaten by the two prisoners Pursley and Wardell had subpoenaed. The attack shattered Cluff’s dental plate and “busted…open” his eye. After the attack, Wardell yelled from another cell, “That’s what you get, you fucking rat.”

Pursley was charged with conspiring to retaliate against a federal witness, along with Wardell and the two assailants. Pursley was convicted following a jury trial, and sentenced to 115 months imprisonment to be served consecutively after completing his tax fraud sentences. His conviction was affirmed in all respects.

See: United States v. Pursley, 577 F.3d 1204 (10th Cir. 2009).

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Related legal case

United States v. Pursley