By Bobby Bordelon
The Greenbrier County Circuit Court dealt with a 2019 series of break-ins and thefts with the sentencing of Matthew Riffle on Jan. 19. Between the two to 20 year sentence served by Judge Jennifer Dent and a federal sentence, Riffle has several years before he could apply for parole for the addiction-fueled “crime spree.”
Targets of the thefts included two community churches, the Lily Valley Baptist Church and Highland Church of God, and multiple businesses, including H&R Farm Supply, Allegheny Wood Products, and Boyer’s Tree Service.
In September 2020, Riffle pled guilty in federal court to breaking into the Springdale and Smoot Post Offices in 2019.
“Breaking into federal government buildings is a serious offense,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “And as Riffle can attest, it’s an offense that can result in stiff sentences.”
In Greenbrier County, Riffle pleaded guilty to two of the four cases against him. Greenbrier County Prosecutor Pat Via asserted that each of the other remaining felony charges are “provable cases” and “are serious.”
“Mr. Faber indicated that this was a crime spree and that’s true,” said Via. “It included numerous victims, half a dozen or so total. It involved numerous different incidents, local businesses were hurt by this. One of the charges [he pled guilty to] was a breaking and entering of a church in our community. One of the cases being dismissed is of a second church in our community. This community suffered greatly at the hands of Mr. Riffle’s actions.”
Riffle’s defense attorney also explained the motivation behind the thefts.
“All the offenses that Mr. Riffle is facing, whether they’ve been dismissed or he has pled guilty to them, relate to what is characterised as a crime spree in that time. Mr. Riffle will tell you the cause of that was drug addiction. He was running hard and trying to keep up with substance abuse and that led him here judge. … He’s taken responsibility for that.”
Dent sentenced Riffle to two consecutive sentences of one to 10 years for the two guilty pleas, resulting in a two to 20 year sentence. This sentence will begin after Riffle finishes the eight months remaining of his 14 month federal sentence.
Before the sentence was handed down, Riffle was allowed to give a statement to the court, where he apologized to the people and places he stole from.
“I would like to start by apologizing for the crimes I committed, the people involved that were affected by such actions,” Riffle said. “Today, I am a man full of remorse but am also a man who understands wrongdoings and is ready to change. The time I’ve served in custody has truly opened my eyes to a world I have to desire to continue existing in. I’m ready to do better. I’ve let a lot of people down, people who had faith in me, and I intend on regaining that faith. I want to start a new life, get a job, pay off my debts, and play a role in society. I can do better, Your Honor. I will be better.”