Roger Walls Indicted

A federal grand jury in Little Rock charged Task Force Chief Roger C. Walls of Sheridan, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton, and Sheridan attorney William A. Murphy with violating the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

In reality, the defendants operated the Seventh Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a conduit to obtain monetary benefits to themselves and others, and to participate in and conceal criminal activities,” the indictment states. Harmon as prosecutor, Walls as administrator of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Murphy as a defense attorney were the indictment’s main targets. Harmon’s office was home to the task force, which covered Saline, Grant and Hot Spring counties, until its demise in January 1996.

Roger Walls

Click the link below, “Harmonizing Drugs and Law,” by Mara Leveritt, to get an insight as to how this illegal enterprise worked for Harmon, Walls and Murphy.

Friday, April 18, 1997
Arkansas Times

 

By: Mara Leveritt

How’s this for a criminal enterprise: Say you’re a drug dealer, an operator, a profiteer on the narcotics black market. You buy the stuff and you sell it. You know your customers as well as your suppliers. You’ve got connections, all of them secret.

Mara Leveritt

Yours is a lucrative business. The only problem is that it’s illegal. For most drug traffickers, dealing with the law can be a nuisance. But say that you are the law. Say that you’re the prosecuting attorney and that you’ve got the head of the local drug task force the guy who carries the gun working for you as one of your employees. In this case, your legal problems can be reduced.

Consider it from a business point of view. You’ve got a drug-distribution area that you control, on the streets as well as in court. If competition appears, your friend in the drug task force dispatches some of his undercover officers who also carry guns to the newcomers for a chat. The technique is usually fairly effective.

If the interlopers ignore the message, the drug task force whips into action, sweeping up the offenders so that you, the anti-drug, law-and-order prosecutor, can throw the book at them To the law-abiding public, you come out a hero. To the law-abiding public, you’re a drug-fighting hero. Your competitors see a police-backed monopoly. This combination of criminality and legal authority works for you all around. Say some cop who’s not on your payroll hauls in someone in your organization. No problem. The cop can file charges till he’s blue in the face, but so long as you’re the prosecutor, certain cases simply fall through the cracks. A charge is little more than an annoyance’ if it’s never prosecuted.

You can even turn the prosecutor’s office itself into a profit center. That power to bring people before the law is a persuasive one. “Look, hon,” you could say to a defendant, “our little ol’ drug task force has found out that you’re up to your neck in illegal activities.” (You could say this, whether or not it was true. In this arena, niceties like the truth don’t much matter.) So you say, “Now, if we take you to court, considering that I hardly ever lose a case, you’re going to spend about the next 150 years in prison. Or we could negotiate.” Some people will find ways of coming up with a lot of cash to avoid 150 – years – or even five minutes – in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Now, say you’ve been at this for several years, wearing-your white hat as prosecutor while lining your pockets with black market cash. You know where the bodies are buried. You know who has paid how much for what. You’ve entered extortion heaven.

The information you’ve gleaned, through shake-downs by your task force and payoffs in your office, is an asset of considerable worth. What you know about some people is a golden chain around their throats. Anytime they even think about singing, you can yank it.

If, for years, all the oversight and law enforcement authorities who know what you’re up to opt to leave you alone, you’ve pretty much got it made. Only the stupidest of bad luck could interfere …

Well, here’s to stupidest of luck. It finally caught up with Dan Harmon, the former prosecuting attorney for Saline, Grant, and Hot Spring counties. What happened to Harmon was so stupid, in fact, that law enforcement authorities who have stayed out of Harmon’s way for decades were forced to show some interest. In December 1995, when Harmon’s ex-wife was caught red handed with drug evidence that had been taken from Harmon’s evidence locker and especially once that incident was reported in the media the possibility of slipping this latest bit of Harmon business under the rug was seriously diminished.

Last week, a federal grand jury charged Harmon with racketeering, dealing in cocaine, manufacture of methamphetamine, extortion, witness tampering, and retaliating against an informant. Roger Walls, administrator of the drug task force, and a third man, a Sheridan attorney, were also indicted in the scheme, and other indictments may be coming. Watch what happens in the next few weeks. We hear about cops-and-drugs scandals elsewhere. This is Arkansas’s own, and it’s a doozy. After nearly two decades in operation, what the grand jury called Harmon’s “criminal enterprise” was almost certainly not a small one. The question now is how deep the indictments will go. What do you think? Will the corruption that has plagued the 7th Judicial Distract be cleaned out? Or will this just be a little dusting, leaving the infrastructure that has supported Harmon – his investors, you might say – untouched? Write me with your bets and opinions here at the Times, or e-mail me at mleveritt@aristotle.net. And stay tuned. What happens next will tell us a lot.

Copyright 1997 Arkansas Writers Project, Inc.
Reproduced with permission

Newspaper Articles Covering Trial

Sunday April 13, 1997
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

 

Walls scoffs at witnesses: ‘I’m innocent’

 

By Frank Wolfe and Rodney Bowers

Roger Walls declared his inno­cence Saturday in a federal indict­ment charging him with a raft of offenses, including conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine and extorting $13,000 from two drug defendants.

Walls, 47, is the former adminis­trator of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force. The 7th Judicial District consists of Grant, Saline and Hot Spring counties.

“I’m completely innocent,” Walls said when reached at the Economy Inn, a motel he owns in Sheridan. “We’re ready to go to tri­al.”

On Saturday, Walls said he doubted the credibility of the gov­ernment’s witnesses. ·”They can go to the penitentiary and pick up all the people they want to,” he said. Walls’ attorney, Jack Lassiter, said Friday that the defense will rigorously cross-examine govern­ment witnesses.

On Friday a federal grand jury in Little Rock decided there was enough evidence to indict Walls on one count of racketeering, one count of conspiracy to manufac­ture drugs, two counts of conspira­cy to extort money, one count of making a false statement to a fi­nancial institution and one count of money laundering.

The indictment marks an ironic turn of events for Walls who an­nounced a run for the State House of Representatives in 1994 promis­ing to make crime his top concern.

“We must take the criminal off the street,” he said in a statement announcing his bid to become District 48 representative. “I believe in making every effort to rehabili­tate the criminal or the drug user, but we also have an obligation to the large majority who are law­-abiding citizens. There is no alter­native!”

Walls dropped out of that race.

On Friday, a federal grand jury indicted Walls, Sheridan lawyer William Murphy and Dan Harmon, who as prosecuting attorney had been Walls’ boss, with violating the Racketeering Influenced Cor­rupt Organizations Act.

The indictment said Harmon had run his office as a criminal en­terprise for five years, extorted money from drug defendants in re­turn for dropping charges, pos­sessed cocaine stolen from the task force’s evidence locker, conspired to manufacture metham­phetamine and assaulted a news­paper reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Walls came under federal scrutiny in November 1995 after Garland County authorities found a task force evidence package at a Hot Springs area condominium rented to Harmon’s estranged wife, Holly.

The package, which supposed­ly held nearly 2 pounds of pure cocaine, belonged in a Benton evidence locker to which Walls said only he and his chief deputy, Henry Efird, had access. When of­ficers retrieved the package, it contained not the drug but a sili­con based substance.

Walls’ business dealings, which also led to his indictment, included the amassing of nearly $500.000 debt in a year’s time on an annual salary of less than $35,000.

Walls, who blamed the ene­mies he had made during his five years on the task force for bring­ing attention his way, said there was nothing mysterious about what he did. He applied for and received loans to buy a motel and restaurant in his hometown of Sheridan. The purchases, he said, “made good business sense.”

Records filed at the Grant County Courthouse showed that he and his wife. Felicia Ann. bor­rowed nearly $500,000 over 12 months beginning in June 1994. Those debts included:

  • A $235,000 bank loan on Catherine’s Restaurant, owed equally by the Wallses and anoth­er Sheridan couple, R.L. and Catherine Beck.
  • A $175,000 bank loan for the Sheridan Motel, renamed the Economy Inn and located next to the restaurant.
  • A $70,000 loan on the Wallses’ home, extending the payment of a December 1993 loan of $60,750 by 5.5 years.
  • A $15,379.11 loan for a 1993 Cadillac El Dorado.

Mortgage records show the bank loans on the restaurant and motel are due, respectively, Aug. 12, 1997, and Aug. 23, 1998. Walls said the loans actually are for 10 years each and that interest rates will be renewed on those dates.

His other loans, excluding the car purchase of Nov. 20, 1995, have monthly payments of $2,027.68, or $24,332 a year. Terms of the car payment were unavail­able.

Walls said in December 1995 that he sold Personal Touch Florist of Sheridan for $42,500 in 1992 and that his sole income de­rived from his task force salary and the two businesses. He earned $34,200 as task force direc­tor that year. Salary figures for his wife, who worked at the restaurant, were unavailable.

Tax records for 1994 also showed the Wallses had little col­lateral for the loans—a six-room house in Sheridan, a 1989 Cadillac Deville, a 1990 Chevrolet Sub­urban and a 1981 Stratus boat. Walls said the banks provided the money on the basis of property values of the two businesses and their potential income.

Catherine’s Restaurant, which served buffet and home-style meals, was one of 11 restaurants, including six major fast-food chains, in the town of 3,042 people in late 1995.

The 23-room motel, built in 1967, was the only one in Sheri­dan when Walls bought it. Compe­tition came a year later from the 40-room Hillcrest Inn built a block away.

A board of six lawmen from the three-county judicial district hired Walls in December 1990, largely on the basis of his previ­ous business experience.

The group wanted him to straighten the financial mess un­covered earlier that year by the state police, which found $4,000 missing and practically no finan­cial records.

“I’ve got to make it work!” Walls said in an interview at the time of his hiring. “I know we have a drug problem in the judi­cial district. I am aware of the need for something to be done.”

Before joining the six-member task force, Walls worked as a sub­stance abuse treatment counselor at a Camden hospital. The Beebe native also attended Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, where he took courses in busi­ness administration and psychol­ogy.

Copyright © Little Rock Newspapers. Inc.

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Tuesday, August 26, 1997
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Page 3B


U.S. asks judge to dismiss money-laundering charges


Roger Walls, the former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and two Fordyce brothers will no longer face charges of money laundering and making false statements to financial institutions.

U.S. Attorney Paula Casey said Monday that her office decided to dismiss the charges because “we decided it was the right thing to do.” She said the dismissal would not affect other federal charges Walls faces, but she declined to comment further.

In April, a federal grand jury indicted Walls, Thakor N. Patel and Pravin N. Patel on charges of money laundering and making false statements. All three maintained their innocence.

The charges were part of a larger indictment that accused Walls and former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton of running their state offices as illegal rackets in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. But Chief U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner split the charges the Patels shared with Walls from the rest of the indictment.

Reasoner has not ruled on the request to dismiss the charges.

Harmon went to trial in late May and was convicted on five of 11 charges. He awaits sentencing.

Walls still faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to manufacture drugs and two counts of conspiracy to extort money. He is scheduled for trial in January with Sheridan attorney Bill Murphy, who is accused of being part of the illegal racket.

No other charges are pending against the Patels.

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

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Friday, January 9, 1998 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Walls jury seated; trial begins

 

Roger Walls arrives Thursday at the federal courthouse in Little Rock for jury selection for his trial on charges of racketteering, conspiracy to manufacture drugs and conspiracy to extort money. Walls is former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

 
A jury was seated late Thursday afternoon to hear the criminal trial of Roger Walls, former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force. Opening arguments and testimony begin today. Jury selection took longer than expected as U.S. District Judge Stephen Reasoner questioned potential members about pretrial publicity. Walls faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to manufacture drugs and conspiracy to extort money. Former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton, who was indicted along with Walls, was convicted last summer in a publicized trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling told potential jurors that the government has agreed to seek sentence reductions for several convicted criminals for testimony against Walls. “A lot of the people who are going to testify here are in the penitentiary,” Stripling said. Defense attorney Jack Lassiter said he expects the trial to last until at least Tuesday.

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

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Saturday, January 10, 1998
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Page 7B

 

Convict: Drug chief sold chemicals

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

 

By Joe Stumpe

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.

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

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Tuesday, January 13, 1998
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

 

Paid $2,500 to avoid prison term,
Texan testifies in ex-drug task force chief’s trial

 

By Linda Friedlieb

Roger Walls former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force, appeared confident Monday during the third day of his trial on charges that he conspired with a prosecuting attorney to manufacture drugs and extort money from state prisoners.

Testimony focused on Ernest Varnardo, who said he gave former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon money to avoid prison after being stopped on the highway with drugs under the hood of his car.

Varnardo and his girlfriend, Joycelyn McCain, both testified Monday about a trip to Arkansas where Varnardo paid $2,500 cash to Harmon in a restaurant parking lot. Holly Duvall, Harmon’s ex-wife testified about being with Harmon during that meeting.

They also said Walls and Harmon picked Varnardo up at his Fort Worth home in May 1993 and deposited him in the Grant County jail, although Varnardo’s drug charges were pending in neighboring Saline County.

Prosecutors contend that Walls conspired with Harmon in the extortion scheme – one of the five charges on which Harmon was convicted in June. They argue that Harmon and Walls hid Varnardo in the Grant County jail, and that Varnardo was released a few weeks later without an arraignment or court hearing.

“I don’t have nothing bad to say about” Walls, Varnardo testified. “The only thing I didn’t like is when he came to my house and arrested me.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dan Stripling and George Vena finished presenting their evidence Monday afternoon, turning over the courtroom agenda to Jack Lassiter, who is defending Walls. Testimony is likely to conclude today.

Copyright 1998, Little Rock Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, January 14, 1998
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


Ex-task force chief’s drug, extortion case goes to jury


By Linda Friedlied

A federal jury deliberated into the night Tuesday but couldn’t decide whether Roger Walls, former head of the 7th Judicial District drug task force, is guilty of conspiring to extort money and manufacture drugs.

Deliberations will continue today.

Testifying for hours Tuesday, Walls denied conspiring with former Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon to extort $5,500 from a Texas man or to take chemicals from the task force evidence locker to make methamphetamine.

“We were a small, underfunded police agency that had to cover three counties, “Walls testified. “We made a tremendous number of cases each year.”

His attorney, Jack Lassiter, asked Walls point-blank, “Did you conspire with any of these people or anyone else to manufacture drugs? Have you ever unlawfully taken something from the evidence locker?”

To each question, Walls’ answer was a quiet “no, sir.’

But on cross examination, Walls testified that he accompanied Harmon to Fort Worth and picked up Ernest Varnardo, drove him back to Arkansas and deposited him in the Grant County jail, but never arrested him.

“I submit that if a person comes into your house, no matter how polite he is, takes you to another state, puts you in jail, that’s an arrest,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling said in his closing argument. “Mr. Varnardo thought it was an arrest. I would submit that if it happened to you, you would think it was an arrest too.”

Stripling pointed out that while the charges Varnardo faced from a traffic stop the previous year were filed in Saline County, Varnardo was kept in the Grant County jail almost a month without ever going before a judge – even though a bench warrant was out for his arrest for failure to appear at a hearing.

“Mr. Varnardo was taken to a jail in another city, was never brought before a judge, and after about a month he was released,” Stripling said. “That’s not the action of a law enforcement officer doing his job. That’s the action of a man trying to put some pressure on someone.”

In the second charge, Walls is accused of taking chemicals seized from convicted criminal Jimmy Bumgardner and giving them to a methamphetamine maker named Ronnie Knight.

Lassiter attacked the evidence in his closing argument asking jurors to consider whether they can believe the witnesses the federal prosecutors used to make the case. He summarized the drug case as “three convicted felons with a lot of time in the penitentiary.”

“I want you to think about whether you can believe anything these people say at all,” Lassiter said.

He contends that many of the prosecution’s witnesses are looking to either shorten their prison time or get revenge on Walls, whom he said was merely a law enforcement officer doing his job.

In his June trial, Harmon faced the same two charges among the 11 he was battling. He was convicted of the extortion charge but acquitted of conspiracy to manufacture drugs.

Copyright 1998, Little Rock Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, January 15,1998
Benton Courier

 

Walls guilty of extortion

The former drug task force head was convicted in federal court

Staff and wire reports

LITTLE ROCK – The former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force was found guilty of extortion in federal court Wednesday, but was acquitted on a charge of conspiring to manufacture drugs.

Roger C. Walls of Sheridan was indicted last year, along with former Prosecuting attorney Dan Harmon.

As prosecutor for the district, Harmon oversaw the task force and Walls served as its administrator. Harmon was convicted of racketeering several months ago, but has not been sentenced. He is jailed in Little Rock.

Walls’ attorney, Jack Lassiter, said today that he intends to challenge his client’s guilty verdict.

Harmon, who ran the task force that was created to combat drug trafficking in the district’s three counties, was convicted in June of using his office to extort drugs and money. Walls’ trial lasted four days, Lassiter said. “The case went to the jury at mid-afternoon Tuesday, but no decision was reached then.” The panel resumed its deliberations Wednesday and the verdict was in about 12:50 p.m., he said.

Defense witnesses reportedly included:

  • An undercover police officer.
  • Former Hot Spring County Detective Henry Efird of Malvern, who served as the drug task force officer and was responsible for the agency’s evidence room.
  • Sheridan Police Chief David Hooks.
  • Robert Shepherd, a former Grant County sheriff who served as drug director for the state during the early ’90s.
  • Ralph Cloar, a Little Rock attorney.

The defendant also took the stand, according to Lassiter.

“I can just say that we’re disappointed in the verdict, and I intend to file a written motion with the court sometime in the next few days asking (U.S. District) Judge (Stephen) Reasoner to review all the evidence in the case against the government’s burden of proof and to enter a judgment of acquittal for lack of evidence in this matter.

“If the judge denies that motion, then sentencing will be set in 70-90 days,” he noted.

“In the federal system, you don’t file a notice of appeal until after sentencing,” he explained. If the conviction does stand, Lassiter said he and Walls will decide within 10 days of sentencing whether to appeal the verdict. In the meantime, Walls is free on his own recognizance, his attorney noted.

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Thursday, January 15, 1998
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

 

Convicted of extortion, former drug chief weeps

 

By Linda Friedlieb

Smiling and confident during his trial, Roger Walls became visibly shaken and upset Wednesday after a federal jury found the former head of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force guilty of conspiring to extort thousands of dollars.

The same jury acquitted Walls of conspiring to manufacture drugs, a charge alleging that Walls took chemicals that were seized as evidence and provided them to a methamphetamine dealer.

The jury deliberated about three hours Tuesday but left without reaching a verdict and returned Wednesday to deliberate about the same time before coming to a decision.

After the jury left the courtroom, Walls, 48, said he did not understand how he could be convicted when he was innocent. He remained in tears in the courtroom for a while, comforted by relatives.

Jack Lassiter, Walls’ attorney, said he felt there was not enough evidence for a conviction on either charge and he would ask Chief U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner to consider setting aside the jury’s verdict on the extortion charge.

The conspiracy to commit extortion charge falls under the Hobbs Act, which governs interstate commerce, and has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. No sentencing date has been set, and sentences are governed by the federal sentencing guidelines.

Walls, who owns a motel in Sheridan, was indicted in April on six charges as part of a larger indictment naming seven other individuals, including former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon, in a conspiracy to form a criminal enterprise in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

By the time of Walls’ trial, all but two of the charges against him had been dismissed.

The conspiracy to commit extortion charge alleged that Harmon and Walls extorted about $5,000 from Ernest Varnardo, a Fort Worth man facing drug charges in Saline County after getting caught with illegal narcotics during a traffic stop.

According to the indictment and testimony, Varnardo originally was arrested Dec. 16, 1992. He was released and then failed to appear for a court proceeding, which he said he did not know about. A bench warrant was then issued for his arrest.

But in April 1993, Walls and Harmon traveled to Fort Worth, picked Varnardo up at his home, brought him back to Arkansas and deposited him in the Grant County jail. There were no extradition proceedings, and Varnardo never appeared before a judge during his time in jail. Also, Varnardo was housed in Grant County although his charges were in Saline County.

Walls said in his testimony that while he picked up Varnardo, brought him to Arkansas and put him in jail, those actions did not constitute an arrest.

Varnardo made a payment to Harmon and was released, still without ever having a court proceeding and with an outstanding bench warrant on file.

During the summer of that same year, Varnardo made an additional $2,500 payment to Harmon in a restaurant parking lot. Harmon’s ex-wife, Holly Duvall, testified she accompanied Harmon to the meeting, as did Varnardo’s common-law wife, Joycelyn McCain.

At his trial in June, Harmon was convicted of five of the 11 charges he faced, including a charge of conspiring to extort money from Varnardo. Like Walls, Harmon was acquitted of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine.

The drug charge alleged Walls and Harmon conspired with a methamphetamine “cook” named Ronnie Joe Knight to manufacture methamphetamine. The indictment accused Harmon of making the arrangement and Walls of delivering chemicals, including red phosphorus, iodine, ephedrine and sulfuric acid, to Knight in exchange for $2,500.

During Walls’ trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling presented evidence that the chemicals were taken from a drug bust which led to the arrest of Jimmy Bumgardner. Bumgardner is trying to have his convictions on drug charges overturned on the basis that the man who prosecuted him is a convicted felon, Harmon.

The 7th Judicial District consists of Grant, Saline and Hot Spring counties.

A board of six lawmen from the three-county judicial district hired Walls in December 1990, largely on the basis of his previous business experience.

Before joining the six-member task force, Walls worked as a substance abuse treatment counselor at a Camden hospital. The Beebe native also attended Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, where he took courses in business administration and psychology.

Copyright 1998, Little Rock Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, January 6, 2000
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

 

Judge delays prison term for ex-official

 

By Rodney Bowers

Roger Walls of Sheridan, former administrator of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force, will not begin serving a 28-month federal prison sentence for extortion until March 1 after he is treated for cancer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stribling said Wednesday.

Walls, 50, was sentenced in July and was to report to prison Monday. U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner granted a motion last week delaying Walls’ commitment date so he could receive treatment.

Walls’ attorney, Jack Lassiter of Little Rock, said Wednesday that Walls has malignant melanoma, a form of cancer that is in remission but could recur. However, the cancer “metastasized in the past year,” so Walls sought treatment at a Houston hospital, Lassiter said. The delay will allow Walls to receive follow-up care, Lassiter said.

Along with the 28-month sentence, Walls was ordered to pay $12,500 in restitution and a $10,000 fine and to serve two years of supervised release after his prison term.

Along with Walls, former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton was convicted of extortion and four other felonies in June 1997.

Harmon, who headed the drug task force that operated at that time in Saline, Grant and Hot Spring counties, and Walls were charged with extorting more than $5,000 from Ernest Varnardo of Fort Worth.

Varnardo was arrested Dec. 16, 1992, and had faced drug charges in Saline County after police found illegal narcotics during a traffic stop.

After Varnardo failed to appear for court after he was released, Walls and Harmon picked him up at his home in April 1993, brought him back to Arkansas and placed him in the Grant County jail. Varnardo never appeared before a judge, either for extradition in Texas or on drug charges in Arkansas.

Varnardo testified in federal court that he made a payment to Harmon and was released. He said he later made a payment to Harmon in a restaurant parking lot.

Harmon and Walls originally were indicted together in April 1997. Four charges were dropped against Walls before his trial, and he was acquitted of a fifth.

Copyright © 2000, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Obituary

Roger C Walls

(1949 – 2002)

Roger C Walls was born on July 9, 1949. He died on April 6, 2002 at 52 years old. We know that Roger C Walls had been residing in Sheridan, Grant County, Arkansas 72150.