MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — A Martinsburg man has been arrested on charges of terroristic threats against a candidate for mayor.
The suspect, identified as Timmothy Warren Clarke, is charged with setting fire to a tree at the home of Martinsburg City Councilwoman Harriet Johnson, one of six candidates in the July 28 election. Clarke is alleged to have set the fire with Johnson’s campaign literature. He is being held in the Eastern Regional Jail on a $20,000 bond.
The terrorism charge is based on using campaign material in the act of attempted arson.
“During the point of litigation, a prosecutor can decide to up charge or reduce the charges,” says Martinsburg bail bondsman John Fink. “But the initial arrest is something the law enforcement officer made on his own.”
Court documents filed by Martinsburg Police say that Clarke may have been trying to “send a message or threaten Johnson because of her position on city council, or that she is running for mayor, or both.”
Fink, who has many years of experience with the Berkeley County courts, said “We’re in a time right now where politics has caused people to do things they wouldn’t normally do.”
Clarke lives in the same neighborhood as Johnson and her husband. The complaint on file with the magistrate claims he has been observed engaging in suspicious activity the past few weeks, even following Councilwoman Johnson when she canvases neighborhoods for her mayoral campaign.
Fink, also a private investigator, says Clarke is familiar to law enforcement. This is his fourth arrest. If convicted, he faces a fine of up to $25,000 and one to three years behind bars.
Martinsburg police say Clarke’s action threatened the property and lives of Councilwoman Johnson and her husband.
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