Saturday, June 7, 1997

Harmon lawyer asks judge to caution jury on state plea

Dan Harmon's attorney Friday withdrew her motion for a mistral, instead asking Chief U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner to create a cautionary instruction for the jury explaining Harmon's plea to misdemeanor charges in state court.
The prosecution and defense attorneys met briefly Friday morning with Reasoner to deal with lingering legal issues, including jury instructions. Reasoner will instruct the jury Monday, and attorneys will make closing arguments before the 12-member panel retires to deliberate on the 11 federal charges against Harmon.
Harmon is the former prosecuting attorney for the 7th Judicial District, which includes Hot Spring, Saline and Grant counties. He is accused of running the prosecuting attorney's office as a corrupt organization in violation of the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization Act.
Harmon resigned from office in July 1996 as part of a plea agreement. He had been charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors related to attacks on an ex-wife, two Saline County sheriff's deputies and an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter.
Under the plea agreement, Harmon pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors related to the incident with the sheriff's deputies and no contest to a misdemeanor related to the attack on the reporter.
In addition to the racketeering charge, Harmon faces two counts' of possession with 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.
The jury heard eight days of testimony in the case in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.

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