|Wednesday, May 28, 1997
Talk of conspiracy, drugs sets mood at Harmon trial
Former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton had his wife
crawl through a dropped ceiling space to steal two pounds of
cocaine from a police evidence room, a federal prosecutor told
On another occasion, Harmon, 52, demanded sex or additional
money from the wife of a criminal suspect who'd already agreed to
pay him $10,000, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling charged
during opening arguments in Harmon's trial.
"He tells her she has to have sex with her or come up with
more money,'' Stripling said.
But Harmon's attorney said her client's only mistake was
becoming involved with the wrong woman -- his ex-wife, Holly
DuVall, who pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge
herself Tuesday, will be the only witness who will testify that
Harmon used drugs, Harmon's attorney, Lea Ellen Fowler,
"Mr. Harmon's main problem was he married Miss DuVall, and
Miss DuVall was a troubled young woman with a serious drug
problem,'' Fowler said.
Harmon is the former prosecuting attorney for the state's 7th
Judicial District, which covers Hot Spring, Saline and Grant
counties. His trial on 11 felony counts got under way Tuesday
afternoon after attorneys spent the morning picking a jury of 12
people and two alternates.
A federal indictment alleges that Harmon used his position to
run a corrupt organization in violation of the federal
Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations act. It also
charged him with 10 other counts involving individual offenses,
ranging from possession with the intent to distribute cocaine
hydrochloride, conspiracy to extort money, conspiracy to
manufacture drugs and witness tampering. He is also charged with
retaliating against a witness -- Rodney Bowers, an Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette bureau chief whom Harmon attacked outside his
office in May 1996.
After the trial recessed for the day, DuVall, 28, pleaded
guilty to misprision, or knowing about but not reporting a
felony. Prosecutors dropped two other drug charges against her.
"Holly DuVall made a deal with the government to save herself
from prison,'' Fowler said.
DuVall could face up to three years in prison and a $250,000
fine, although federal guidelines would probably recommend a
Another witness in Harmon's trial, John M. Steward, also
pleaded guilty Tuesday to possessing marijuana with intent to
distribute. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million
U.S. District Judge Stephen Reasoner allowed Steward, who has
had two open-heart surgeries, to remain free on bond despite
having tested positive for marijuana use in April.
Speaking to prospective jurors, Stripling acknowledged that
"a lot of witnesses who've been involved in criminal activities''
will be called to testify against Harmon, including several
testifying in exchange for leniency in their own cases.
In his opening statement, Stripling said Harmon and DuVall --
who were then married -- hatched the plan to steal drugs that had
been seized by police after their regular supplier, Shelton
Corley, went to prison in 1995.
Harmon's office was in the same building as the evidence
locker for the 7th Judicial District Task Force, whose cases
Harmon prosecuted, Stripling said.
On a Saturday in October 1995, Stripling said, DuVall and
Harmon went to the building and DuVall used a ladder to reach a
storage space created by a dropped ceiling.
"Miss Harmon reached down ... and she'll give you the details
on taking drugs out,'' Stripling said
Copyright 1997, Little Rock Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.