Former Prosecuting Attorney
Dan Harmon is now scheduled to
stand trial alone May 27 on federal
drug, conspiracy and extortion
Chief U.S. District Judge
Stephen M. Reasoner decided Frday
to sever Harmon's case from
those of his seven co-defendants
after several other defendants in
the case asked for a postponement.
Reasoner said he could not
reschedule the case before January
because of conflicts on his calendar.
The case is expected to
take about three weeks.
"We get paid anyway, whether
we try the case once or twice,"
Reasoner told Assistant U.S. Attorney
Dan Stripling, who is prosecuting
the case for the government.
Stripling objected to the severance
and refused to comment after
the hearing Friday.
A federal grand jury indicted
Harmon, the former prosecuting
attorney of the 7th Judicial District,
on 11 charges in April. Harmon,
along with Sheridan businessman
Roger C. Walls and Sheridan attorney
William A. Murphy, are accused of
running the prosecuting attorney's
office as an organized criminal
enterprise in violation of the
federal Racketeering Influenced
Corrupt Organizations Act.
As part of that charge, 11 separate
crimes are listed, 10 of which
are also charged separately. Besides
the racketeering charge,
Harmon faces two counts of possession
with the intent to distribute
cocaine hydrochloride, four
counts of conspiracy to extort money,
three of conspiracy to manufacture
drugs, one of witness tampering
and one of retaliation against a
Reasoner decided Friday to
continue the cases against Walls,
Murphy, Holly DuVall and John
Milton Steward. DuVall, who is
Harmon's former wife, and Steward
are named but not charged in
the racketeering count and face
related charges. Reasoner said a
trial for the four would be set for
Two more co-defendants
Thakor N. Patel and Pravin N. Patel
will be tried separately
along with Walls on charges of
making false statements to a financial
institution and money laundering.
A date has not been set for
The final co-defendant, Arturo
Valdez of San Antonio, has a warrant
pending for his arrest.
"I'm ready tomorrow. I'm delighted,"
Harmon said after the
hearing. "I just want my trial. I
don't care who I am tried with. I
have no doubt they are all innocent."
Harmon, who had previously
asked to represent himself, told
Reasoner on Friday that he wanted
Little Rock attorney Lea Ellen
Fowler to be lead counsel on the
case. Harmon had previously
asked the court to appoint a female
attorney after two male attorneys
appointed to back up Harmon
were forced off the case because
Fowler told the judge she had
not received "one stick of discovery."
She also asked for, and was
granted, an investigator to aid her
in preparing a defense.
Stripling indicated to the court
that a room full of materials remains
available for Fowler's perusal.
Reasoner said part of the reason
his docket is so crowded is the
second trial of former Arkansas
Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and his two
That trial, expected to last at
least a month, was rescheduled for
September after Reasoner granted
a nine-month continuance because
of Tucker's ill health despite
the objection of John Haley, one of
Tucker's co-defendants who himself
had asked that his case be severed
and go to trial immediately.
"It's quite clear under the
Speedy Trial Act that my docket is
not an excludable reason," Reasoner
said. "I just think we would
be looking at Mr. Harmon being
entitled to a dismissal" if his case
was postponed until January over
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