Thursday, July 23, 1998

Conway trip costs Harmon 3 more years in prison

LINDA FRIEDLIEB
ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

A federal judge described former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon as "a thorn in our side for some years" before ordering Harmon to serve more than three years behind bars in addition to the eight-year term he is already serving.
    U.S. District Judge Henry Woods took less than five minutes Wednesday to sentence Harmon to 37 months in prison, the maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines, for convictions related to an October episode in Conway. The latest prison sentence will be served after Harmon completes a 97-month term levied by another judge for unrelated charges.
    Woods explained that he made the sentences consecutive because Harmon committed the offense while on bond in the earlier criminal case. When released from prison, Harmon will have to spend three years on supervised release, which includes drug testing and counseling.
    In April, a jury convicted Harmon of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, attempting to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of using a telephone to commit a drug offense. The charges all stemmed from an Oct. 4 trip Harmon made to his girlfriend's Conway apartment complex while he was supposed to be confined at his Saline County home.
    Harmon's girlfriend testified that he was bringing methamphetamine and pornography tapes to her apartment for a drug and sex party, and the prosecution played tapes of their phone conversations. FBI agents attempted to arrest Harmon when he arrived, but Harmon ran through the complex, jumped into a man-made lake and splashed around before surrendering to authorities.
    Traces of methamphetamine were found on a piece of tinfoil in Harmon's pocket, but no other methamphetamine was found on him. Methamphetamine dissolves in water.
    Under federal sentencing guidelines, 30 of the 37 months resulted from the conviction, and the remaining months were a penalty enhancement because the crimes came during a supervised release pending sentencing for an earlier conviction.
    Harmon was convicted in June 1997 of one count of racketeering, three counts of conspiring to commit extortion and one of conspiring to possess and distribute marijuana. The racketeering charge alleged Harmon used his 7th Judicial District prosecuting attorney's office as an illegal crime organization to obtain money and drugs.
    In May, U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner gave Harmon the 97-month sentence, observing that "There is just something extraordinary about someone who is a prosecuting attorney misusing the judicial system."
    Reasoner also ordered Harmon to pay $16,000 in restitution to victims of two extortion schemes and a $25,000 fine.
    As prosecuting attorney, Harmon was responsible for Saline, Grant and Hot Spring counties. He held that position from 1979 until 1980 and again from 1991 through 1996, when he was forced to resign in a plea agreement resolving a set of state charges. He pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor and guilty to another.

Copyright 1998, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.


   
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