The Wall Street Journal|
April 15, 1997
By MICAH MORRISON
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--To Whitewater aficionados the
exciting news of the moment is neither the Jim
McDougal sentencing hearing showing his cooperation
with the prosecutors nor Janet Reno's decision not
toappoint an independent counsel on campaign
contributions. Rather, it's last Friday's indictment here of
Mr. Harmon served as prosecuting attorney for
Arkansas's Seventh Judicial District from 1990 until his
abrupt resignation in July 1996. Earlier, he had
insinuated himself as a volunteer investigator and later
special prosecutor in the controversial "train deaths"
murder case of teenagers Kevin Ives and Don Henry,
unsolved since 1987. A federal grand jury charges that
Mr. Harmon (and two associates, Roger Walls and
William Murphy) "operated the Seventh Judicial District
Prosecuting Attorney's Office as a conduit to obtain
monetary benefits to themselves and others, and to
participate and conceal criminal activities."
Mr. Harmon faces two counts of conspiracy to
distribute cocaine and two counts relating to the
production of methamphetamine. Also four extortion
counts and a count under RICO, the Racketeering
Influenced Corrupt Organizations law. Plus one count of
witness tampering and another of retaliating against a
witness, for physically attacking Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette reporter Rodney Bowers last May.
The defendants are not directly connected with
President Clinton. However, the Harmon indictment is
the clearest charge yet that during Gov. Clinton's tenure
certain Arkansas law enforcement officials were dealing
in drugs. The new charges were brought to the grand
jury by Paula Casey, Mr. Clinton's hand-picked U.S.
attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, who says
that an FBI and IRS investigation is continuing. Mr.
Harmon vigorously denies the charges, saying they are
the result of "a federal bureaucracy that's out of control."
about being out of
control. In March
1996, two months
prior to allegedly
Bowers, he briefly
threatened to kill
Holly DuVall, his estranged wife. She had been arrested
on drug charges in November 1995, and was thought to
have cooperated with the corruption probe. In her
condominium, police found an evidence package that
was supposed to contain two pounds of pure cocaine
and be locked in the safe of Mr. Harmon's drug task
force. It proved to contain a silicon-based substance.
Mr. Harmon has a long and colorful career in Arkansas
law enforcement. In 1980, he was running unopposed
for a second term as prosecuting attorney when he
abruptly withdrew and declared personal bankruptcy.
He came back from political oblivion with the train
deaths case. When Ives and Henry were found dead on
railroad tracks southwest of Little Rock in August 1987,
Gov. Clinton's medical examiner, Fahmy Malak, quickly
ruled the deaths "accidental," saying the teenagers had
fallen asleep after smoking too much marijuana. After a
public outcry, a second autopsy concluded the boys had
been murdered, and Mr. Clinton's solicitude for Dr.
Malak in this and other cases became a subject of
controversy. Gov. Clinton named Department of Health
Director Joycelyn Elders to head a commission to
review Dr. Malak. She cleared him of improprieties and
recommended a raise. Dr. Malak was eased out of
office on the eve of Mr. Clinton's 1992 presidential run.
Shortly after the death of the boys, Mr. Harmon
approached Linda Ives, Kevin's mother, to help with the
investigation on a volunteer basis. Later he persuaded a
judge to name him special prosecutor to supervise the
investigation. In 1990, he was elected again as the local
prosecutor. But meanwhile, he'd come under scrutiny in
a 1989 corruption probe alleging drug distribution,
money laundering and political payoffs. In June 1991,
then-U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks cleared Mr. Harmon,
saying there was "no evidence of drug-related
misconduct by any public official."
Mrs. Ives is not impressed with the current indictment.
She's conducted a decade-long campaign over the
airwaves, and lately the Internet; her account was
elaborated in a story on this page on April 18, 1996.
She charges that Mr. Harmon was at the murder scene
and that "high state and federal officials" had participated
in a coverup. "I firmly believe my son and Don Henry
were killed because they witnessed a drug drop by an
airplane connected to the Mena drug smuggling routes."
She scornfully notes that the current indictment only goes
back to August 1991, two months after U.S. Attorney
Banks cleared Mr. Harmon in the earlier probe. "Are
we to believe Dan Harmon was clean in June, but dirty
Mrs. Ives might be dismissed as a grieving mother
grasping at straws, but in charging that Mr. Harmon was
involved in the boys' murder she has found some allies
among investigators. One of them is Jean Duffey, who in
1989 headed a Seventh Judicial District drug task force.
Ms. Duffey left the state when Mr. Harmon filed charges
against her, later found to be baseless. "We had
witnesses telling us about low-flying aircraft and
informants testifying about drug pickups" in the area of
the train deaths, Ms. Duffey said last year. She also says
that a local official told her she was "not to use the drug
task force to investigate any public officials."
Someone else who believes Linda Ives is former Saline
County Detective John Brown, who reopened the case
in 1993 and found a new witness he says saw Mr.
Harmon on the tracks the night the boys died. Detective
Brown's work caught the attention of the FBI's new top
man in Little Rock, Special Agent I.C. Smith. A storied
figure in the bureau, Mr. Smith was sent to Little Rock in
August 1995 by Director Louis Freeh. The Harmon
indictment is part of a new interest in public corruption
by investigators under Mr. Smith and Ms. Casey.
Earlier last week, Ms. Casey also indicted Arkansas
lawyer Mark Cambiano on 31 money laundering and
conspiracy counts. The indictment said the $380,000
Mr. Cambiano allegedly laundered had come from a
methaphetamine ring, and that $20,000 of it went to the
Democratic National Committee and $9,770 to
President Clinton's inaugural fund. Ms. Casey said that
although Mr. Cambiano laundered the money, he was
not involved in drug trafficking, and that there was no
reason to believe those receiving the contributions knew
of their tainted origins. Mr. Cambiano denies the
charges. The allegations arose from a drug investigation
that resulted in guilty pleas from Willard Burnett, alleged
leader of the ring, and Carl Poteete, former Conway
Whether or not the Smith and Casey investigations
proceed to further revelations about the "train deaths"
and Mena, the signs of a shifting landscape are
unmistakable. Exhibit One: Dan Harmon.
Mr. Morrison is a Journal editorial page writer.
Copyright © 1997 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduced with Permission