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Former Pennsylvania Woman Sentenced for Witness Tampering

FBI press release

Joanne Elliott, 49, of Suffolk, Virginia, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for witness intimidation. Elliott was charged after making a threatening hand gesture at a witness who was testifying in the federal criminal narcotics trial, United States v. Walker et al, Cr. 07-038. Elliott pleaded guilty to the charge on September 28, 2011.

Elliott is the cousin of Eddie Lee Walker, the lead defendant in a drug trafficking case involving 21 defendants and an area in the City of Chester referred to as “the cut-off.” In the Spring of 2011, the jury trial in U.S. v. Walker commenced in Courtroom 14A of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Defendant Elliott, who grew up in Chester but lives in Virginia, traveled to Philadelphia in early March and attended the trial for a few days. During the afternoon on March 4, 2011, a cooperating witness was called to the stand by the government. This witness testified to having been involved in illegal drug dealing with Eddie Lee Walker. During that witness’s testimony, Elliott made two hand gestures to the witness. One was using her finger to make circles beside her head; the other was a slashing motion on the side of her throat. Elliott repeated these same gestures to the witness during a court recess, and a Deputy U.S. Marshal then witnessed Elliott making the repetitive throat-slashing motion to the witness. Elliott was taken into custody by the United States Marshals, and later indicted by a federal grand jury.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe ordered three years of supervised release. The case against Elliott was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bea Witzleben.

Walker was convicted in June 2011 and sentenced to 480 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson.