Friday, February 19, 2010
The Associated Press
Ex-prosecutor Arrested On Drug Charges
Harmon, 65, was prosecutor for Grant, Hot Spring and Saline counties in 1979 and 1980, and again from 1991 through 1996.
A warrant was issued for Harmon’s arrest two weeks ago as part of a drug investigation that began six months ago, Sheridan Assistant Police Chief Brent Cole said Friday.
“We saw him here in town (on Wednesday) and we took him down in a traffic stop,” Cole said.
Harmon’s arrest was first reported by the Benton Courier. He was being held on one count each of selling morphine and hydrocodone.
Cole said the charges are enhanced because the purchases occurred near a school, meaning Harmon could be sentenced to an extra 10 years on each count if convicted. The morphine charge carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison, and the hydrocodone charge could result in a sentence of three to 10 years.
Cole would not identify the school because the investigation is still under way.
Harmon’s bond initially was set at $200,000 but was reduced to $100,000 during a hearing Thursday, Cole said. Harmon is due to appear in circuit court on Tuesday and said he would hire his own attorney. The lawyer had not been named as of Friday. Harmon remained in the Sheridan city jail, where Cole said he had a cell to himself for his own protection.
Harmon has a history of combativeness, having been accused by police of assaulting two of his former wives and fighting with sheriff’s deputies during a past arrest. He tried to flee a drug arrest in Conway.
“We were worried he would run or fight,” Cole said. “We blocked him in with vehicles, took him out of (his) vehicle and took him into custody with no problems.”
Harmon was driven out of office in 1996, resigning as part of a plea deal for beating up a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was convicted in 1997 on federal racketeering, extortion and drug conspiracy charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Three more years were tacked on for a subsequent drug conviction. He was released in 2006 after helping prosecutors in a murder conspiracy case.
About 900 criminal cases in Saline County had to be dropped because Harmon did not bring the defendants to trial within one year, as required by law, officials said after Harmon was imprisoned.
In 2008, Harmon was back on the government payroll, working temporarily in Saline County to organize files for the circuit clerk.
The Arkansas Supreme Court disbarred him in 1999.
Harmon was convicted of using his position as prosecutor to obtain money and drugs and to have sex. Convicted drug dealers testified at his trial that Harmon demanded money to drop charges they faced. One woman testified that Harmon offered to drop charges against her husband if she would have sex with him.
“You’re seeing the downfall of my life. It’s women,” Harmon told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a 2008 interview. He told the newspaper that he had used drugs and deserved to go to jail, but he also blamed other people for causing him trouble.