A crack-cocaine dealing case unfolding in court has hit a little too close to home for the Lawrence Police Department: One of the defendants is the daughter of a top LPD supervisor.
Erin Harmon, 25, daughter of Capt. Kevin Harmon, is scheduled to stand trial next month in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., for money laundering and distributing crack cocaine.
Prosecutors allege she helped her boyfriend, Darren D. Wilburn, deal crack and concealed the proceeds by buying automobiles for him and by storing $11,000 cash in a desk drawer at her office.
The case caused friction within the department starting in June 2005, when Erin Harmon called her father and mother to her home in the 3200 block of Glacier Drive after members of the joint city-county Drug Enforcement Unit began serving a search warrant there.
Kevin Harmon later testified that when officers tried to get his daughter to consent to a warrantless search of her workplace - a Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services office - he refrained from advising her because he was afraid of interfering with the criminal case.
She eventually consented to a search of her cubicle at work, where officers found the $11,000 in a paper sack.
But later, Erin Harmon's defense attorney, Jim George, of Lawrence, sought to keep the money from being used as evidence in court, alleging officers used "trickery and deception" by telling her they could get a warrant to search her office if she didn't consent to a search.
Kevin Harmon testified as a defense witness at the suppression hearing, saying he was shocked when he heard LPD Detective Mike McAtee tell his daughter he'd be able to get a search warrant.
In his view, McAtee's statement was contrary to case law, he testified.
"Harmon testified that he should have interjected about his reaction, but he did not because 'I felt like I was in jeopardy myself,'" according to a court document.
On Jan. 6, Judge Kathryn Vratil ruled that the officers who searched Erin Harmon's workplace acted within the law. Where the testimony of Kevin Harmon contradicted that of the two LPD drug officers at the scene - McAtee and Sgt. Tarik Khatib - she gave greater credit to McAtee and Khatib, she wrote.
"Because Harmon is a captain in the Lawrence police department and because he is the defendant's father, he has obvious interests in this matter," Vratil wrote in a footnote. "For this reason, and because of clear inconsistencies in his testimony, his testimony is not altogether persuasive."
Harmon, who oversees the department's training unit, is one of six Lawrence Police captains who are second in command only to Chief Ron Olin. LPD officials declined comment about the issue because of the pending case.
Wilburn, 30, pleaded guilty last month to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Two co-defendants, Evann A. Hardy, 22, and Robert "Cowboy" Robinson, 52, have entered pleas to reduced charges.
A fifth defendant, Lamar Johnson, 30, is scheduled to stand trial next month along with Harmon.