3 sentenced for drug trafficking, witness tampering, related offenses

Posted at 10:58 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 10:58:57-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Three people have been convicted for felonies related to drugs, assault of a federal officer and witness tampering, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced Wednesday.

46-year-old Melvin James Harris of Peshawbestown was sentenced to 240 months in prison for committing five felonies between August and November 2019.

A jury convicted Harris in July 2020 of distributing cocaine, assaulting a federal officer, contempt of court, conspiracy to witness tamper and witness tampering.

Harris’ sister, Vanessa Louis Hunter, 45, of Rockford, Illinois, was also convicted of conspiring with Harris to tamper a witness.

A third member of the conspiracy, Corey John Raphael, pled guilty to joining.

Hunter was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Raphael was sentenced to 33 months.

Harris sold cocaine to an individual who was helping police with narcotics investigations, according to evidence showed at a trial on Aug. 14, 2019.

Four days after the sale, he assaulted a federal officer who tried to arrest him.

Harris was charged September 2019.

After learning the identity of the witness who helped police with the investigations, Harris worked with Hunter, Raphael and others to tamper with that witness in an effort to discourage that witness from testifying against him.

Harris gave out the witness’s name, violating a court order, and used a jail’s phone system to do so.