Saturday, January 10, 1998
Page 7B

Convict: Drug chief sold chemicals

Meth ‘cook’ says he made deal with task force administrator in 1994

A convicted methamphetamine "cook" testified Friday that former drug task force administrator Roger Walls sold him chemicals to make the drug in 1994.
    Walls wanted $3,500 for a box of sulfuric acid, iodine crystals and other substances used to make the powerful stimulant, Ronnie Knight testified at Walls' trial in federal court.
    "I said, "I ain't got $3,500, would you take $2,500?' " Knight said. "He said, 'Yeah.' "
    Knight's statement came near the end of the first day of testimony in Walls' trial on charges of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance and conspiracy to extort money.
    Under cross examination by defense attorney Jack Lassiter, Knight said his testimony could lead government prosecutors to try to have his 100-month sentence halved.. Knight said he has spent all but seven months of the last 10 years in prison on drug and escape charges.
    Knight also testified last year at the trial of former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton who was convicted of five felony charges.
    Lassiter had told jurors during opening arguments that prosecution witnesses against Walls "are all convicted felons in prison with every reason and every motive to lie.”
    He also predicted that on the extortion charge, "You're not going to hear any evidence that Roger Walls received any money whatsoever. You're not going to hear any evidence that Roger Walls knew anybody extorted money or received any money whatsoever."
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling said in his opening statement that Walls helped Harmon bring back from Texas a drug suspect who had reneged on an agreement to make illegal payments to Harmon. The trial recessed for the weekend before prosecutors got to that portion of the testimony.
    In other testimony, another convicted methamphetamine cook, Jimmy Doyle Bumgardner, said be had hired well-known Little Rock attorney Gene Worsham for $30,000 in 1993 or 1994 to represent him in a case brought by the drug task force.
    Worsham was supposed "to get me 10 years," Bumgardner said.
    But Harmon and other drug task force members later "upped the price to $40,000," Bumgardner testified without elaboration. He said Walls was not involved in the negotiations.
    Bumgardner is serving time on state drug charges. Harmon was never charged with trying to extort money from Bumgardner. Worsham died in 1995.

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