Thursday, January 6, 2000
Judge delays prison term for ex-official
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
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.
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