Thursday, June 5, 1997

Harmon weeps for addicted ex-wife, denies all

LINDA FRIEDLIEB
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon denied any role in the theft of cocaine from the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force and broke into tears Wednesday as he discussed his former wife's drug addiction.
"You have to understand, there were so many times she was gone and I didn't know where the hell she was," Harmon testified about his fourth wife, Holly DuVall, who he said began to hang out with criminals in 1994.
"Number one, I was scared for her safety. Number two, she had no business, being my wife, being associated with those people," he testified.
Harmon began testifying Wednesday, the seventh day of his trial on 11 federal charges, after a slew of defense witnesses spoke about his good character, professionalism and truthfulness. Harmon's testimony is expected to continue today.
Before putting her client in the witness chair, Harmon's attorney, Lea Ellen Fowler, asked for a mistrial after Prosecuting Attorney Paul Bosson of Hot Springs, whom she had subpoenaed as a defense witness, testified that he previously had prosecuted Harmon.
Bosson, as special prosecutor, investigated allegations that Harmon had kidnapped and made terroristic threats against DuVall and complaints that Harmon had attacked two sheriff's deputies and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Rodney Bowers. Harmon resigned from office and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors last July.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Stephen M. Reasoner took the mistrial request under advisement and said the attorneys could discuss it later.
Reasoner did not return to the subject Wednesday, allowing several more witnesses to testify instead.
Fowler had called Bosson to testify about his work with Harmon in the seizure of money from Dewayne Littlepage. Harmon is charged with extorting money from Littlepage.
However, Bosson also testified Wednesday that he did not like to work with Harmon -- drawing another objection from Fowler.
"In 1993, I did not trust the 7th District Task Force or anybody involved with it," he said. "I did not want to expose to my officers to any wrongdoing that might come out of this."
Outside the presence of the jury, Bosson also told people that he had heard a great deal about irregularities in Harmon's office and that he had seen a file himself that made him suspicious.
"There was a great deal of information going around about people being stopped on I-30, money being seized, assets being seized, but no prosecution," he said. Reasoner refused to allow him to repeat the testimony before the jury.
Another defense witness, former drug task force officer and Saline County Sheriff Larry Davis, testified that Harmon did not have keys to the task force evidence locker.
But, during cross-examination, Davis also testified that he had "several visits'' with Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Alexander about Harmon's activities, "taking things to him and then talking to him about the activities in which Mr. Harmon was engaged."
After a defense objection to the line of questioning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling did not follow up on the exact content of those conversations.
Federal prosecutors had previously targeted Harmon in a Saline County drug and corruption case, but failed to indict him. By February, 1990, prosecutors had interviewed 22 people and several had appeared before a grand jury. However, former U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks announced in 1991 that the investigation failed to prove any wrongdoing by Harmon.
Asked about his meetings with Alexander outside court, Davis referred all questions to Banks.
Fowler had better luck with other defense witnesses who testified to Harmon's good character.
"I would trust him with my grandson, little children, my niece," said Fred Wray, one of Harmon's friends. "As a matter of fact, I'd trust him with my life. ... He's never lied to me."
Harmon is charged with racketeering, two counts of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine hydrochloride, four counts of conspiracy to extort money, three of conspiracy to manufacture drugs, one of witness tampering and one of retaliation against a witness.
One of the charges deals with the October 1995 break-in at the evidence locker of the drug task force based in Harmon's former office.
Last week, DuVall testified that Harmon helped her plot the theft of more than one kilogram of cocaine, used the drug with her, benefited from its sale and bought modeling clay to put back in the locker wrapped as evidence so the cocaine wouldn't be missed.
But Harmon testified Wednesday he knew nothing about the break-in or his then-wife's arrest in a condominium near Hot Springs a month later until a television reporter called him to ask about it.
A search of the condominium by a drug dog uncovered the fake bricks wrapped as evidence.
"I had no idea what a package containing silicone would be doing in our evidence locker," he said. "If I was involved, what was the stuff doing with her in a condo in Hot Springs? Why didn't she just leave it at my house?
"Holly knows that if she told me something, I had a responsibility to tell," he added.
Harmon expressed no anger at DuVall for testifying against him, instead talking about how she had changed from the wonderful woman he married into a hostile, combative person dependent on drugs.
Harmon also testified that he had never seen Ronnie Joe Knight until the man appeared in the courtroom to testify against him Tuesday.
Harmon is accused of watching Knight manufacture about 118 grams of methamphetamine in June 1994 and taking home half the finished product. He is also accused of helping to provide Knight with chemicals to manufacture more methamphetamine.
Knight had testified that he first met Harmon in the early 1980s when Harmon purchased large quantities of drugs from him in exchange for $50,000.
"I've never seen that man before in my life," Harmon said. "It's just incredible. I've never in my life had $50,000 in my hand or in my bank account ... That never happened.'

Copyright 1997, Little Rock Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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