Tuesday, August 26, 1997
Page 3B

U.S. asks judge to dismiss money-laundering charges

Roger Walls, the former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and two Fordyce brothers will no longer face charges of money laundering and making false statements to financial institutions.

U.S. Attorney Paula Casey said Monday that her office decided to dismiss the charges because "we decided it was the right thing to do." She said the dismissal would not affect other federal charges Walls faces, but she declined to comment further.

In April, a federal grand jury indicted Walls, Thakor N. Patel and Pravin N. Patel on charges of money laundering and making false statements. All three maintained their innocence.

The charges were part of a larger indictment that accused Walls and former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton of running their state offices as illegal rackets in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. But Chief U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner split the charges the Patels shared with Walls from the rest of the indictment.

Reasoner has not ruled on the request to dismiss the charges.

Harmon went to trial in late May and was convicted on five of 11 charges. He awaits sentencing.

Walls still faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to manufacture drugs and two counts of conspiracy to extort money. He is scheduled for trial in January with Sheridan attorney Bill Murphy, who is accused of being part of the illegal racket.

No other charges are pending against the Patels.

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