For Immediate Release
Holland Man Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Prison for Obstruction of Justice
Mark Baker Used Facebook to Publicize and Threaten Cooperating Witnesses in a Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy Prosecution
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge announced today that on December 16, 2019, Mark Adrian Baker, 27, of Holland, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 63 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for aiding and abetting obstruction of justice. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney also imposed a 3-year period of supervised release. In sentencing Baker, Judge Maloney made clear that this was a serious offense that threatened the very essence of the federal criminal justice system.
On July 31, 2019, Baker pleaded guilty to endeavoring to influence, obstruct, or impede the due administration of justice by publicizing the names of witnesses in an underlying methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy prosecution in a corrupt effort to impede their testimony. Specifically, at the direction of the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy’s leader, Matthew James Boeve, who was in custody at the Newaygo County Jail awaiting trial on federal drug charges, Baker posted to Facebook lists of witness names, and photographs of police reports with the names of witnesses underlined and with the following captions:
“LETS PLAY A GAME… HOW MANY SNITCHES DOES IT TAKE TO CATCH Matt Boeve??? READ THE DAMN FACTS AND STOP BEING SOME DAMN TWACKS!!!! #freemattboeve #doingitright #snitchbitches”
“Share and tag so my boy boeve ppls can all see this bullshit in the papers on his case… [wink emoji] [rat emoji] #freemattboeve … #breathlessly … #goviralwithit”
The threatening posts caused at least one cooperating witness to contact law enforcement, fearing retaliation for his or her cooperation in the methamphetamine conspiracy prosecution. The posts are shown below, but with the government having subsequently obscured the witness names.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Birge stated, “Witnesses who come forward to testify in criminal prosecutions play a vital role in our justice system. When we work with witnesses, we make their safety a priority. Any threats, harassment, or attempts to obstruct or prevent their testimony will be met with serious consequences, including years in federal prison.”
“WEMET takes witness safety and protection very seriously,” said D/F/Lt. Andy Fias, WEMET Section Commander. “We appreciate the swift action taken by the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Western District of Michigan in assisting us in this investigation. This case brought another organization to justice, responsible for trafficking large quantities of crystal methamphetamine into west Michigan. It is just another great example of the partnership we have with our federal partners in law enforcement.”
On September 3, 2019, Boeve pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, and aiding and abetting obstruction of justice for his role in the threatening Facebook posts. Boeve is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2020, and faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison.
The Holland Police Department, the West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET) of the Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) investigated this case and the underlying methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel T. McGraw prosecuted the case.