Former Principal Makes Court Appearance

Former West End Elementary School principal Judy Radcliff appeared in federal court Thursday, after she was indicted on nine charges of alleged money laundering, conspiracy, and theft of federal education grant money.

From March 2000 to January 2003, she and four others who did not work for the school system, are accused of embezzling more than $170,000 from Meridian Public School District.

The government claims that during that time the women worked a scheme where four of them billed Radcliff for goods and consulting services that never took place. The indictment claims that Radcliff received a kickback from the women.

Three of the other women accused also appeared in federal court. Radcliff's sister, Sandra Grady Todd, Todd's employee, Tammie Davis and Radcliff's friend Joycelyn Wilson, who is currently principal of W.C. Williams Elementary in Greenwood, made initial appearances. All entered pleas of not guilty and were each released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Also charged in the case is Radcliff's friend, Carolyn Evans, who was not present. Her court date has not yet been set.

Meanwhile, Radcliff's attorney, Dan Self of Meridian, said there's little that he can say about the case.

"We have pled not guilty to each and every charge. I'm not going to try to try this case in the newspapers. I'm not going to try to try it on T.V. We're going to try it in front of, hopefully, 12 fair and impartial jurors," said Self.

If found guilty of the nine counts, Radcliff could face more than 60 years in prison. The other four, if found guilty, could each face an average of 20 years behind bars.

The trial date for the four who appeared in court Thursday, has been set for Feb. 8, 2005, before U.S. District Judge Tom Lee in Jackson.