The first-degree felony charge of cocaine possession filed against Clarence Harmon, veteran Redskins running back, has been reduced to a third-degree felony charge due to a clerical error made in the initial indictment, according to the Bowie County (Tex.) district attorney.
"We indicted (Harmon) wrong the first time. We just left out a decimal point in the indictment . . . Instead of (possessing) 78 grams, it was .78 grams," Louis Raffaelli said from his office in Texarkana, Tex.
"We picked up the error when we were reviewing the files," Raffaelli said.
Now, Harmon faces a third-degree felony charge, which carries a sentence of no less than two years and a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Conviction of a first-degree felony carries a sentence of no less than five years and a maximum of 99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Raffaelli said that an amount in excess of 28 grams (nearly an ounce) contitutes a first-degree felony.
Harmon was unavailable for comment after practice today, having left for his Virginia home. Veteran players who reported early to camp do not have to return until Sunday night.
Neither Raffaelli nor Spencer Kopf, Harmon's Dallas-based attorney, would comment whether any plea bargaining has taken place or will take place.
"Basically, my gathering of information should be concluded by the middle of next week," Kopf said. "We'll know what avenue we will pursue by the middle of next week."
Raffaelli did not say when a new arraignment date would be set. A previous arraignment, where a trial date for Harmon would have been set, was scheduled for May 25 but was postponed after Kopf said he had not had enough time to study the case.
Raffaelli said the Harmon case "would be disposed of between now and the end of September . . . The case is going to be called and some announcements will be made." He would not elaborate.
Lawrence Lucchino, Redskins general counsel, presented the team's comment today, saying, "The matter is being handled by Clarence's personal attorney. We are very obviously pleased with this pretrial development."
Police from Arkansas and Texas conducted raids March 30, concluding a 12-month investigation. Approximately 100 indictments relating to the raids have been issued in both Bowie County and in nearby Miller County, Ark.
Harmon had been vacationing in Hawaii and was en route to his parents' home in Mississippi when he stopped in Texarkana to visit Ike Forte, a Redskins running back from 1978-80. Harmon and Forte were arrested along with two other men after being found in the apartment of a man named in a previous drug-related indictment.
"It is my knowledge that the only two people who were arrested without warrents for their arrest (in the raids)," Kopf said, "were Clarence and Ike Forte."
Raffaelli said Forte also faces a third-degree felony charge of cocaine possession.
At the time of the arrest, Lt. Ralph Franklin of the Texarkana police department said officers found Harmon, Forte and the two other men free-basing cocaine. Free-basing refers to a method of purifying cocaine by heating it, which returns it to its purest form and increases its potency.
Harmon and Forte, who were jailed until posting $10,000 bail each, have denied they were free-basing.
Harmon, 27, was signed by the Redskins as a rookie free agent from Mississippi State in 1977, and since has become a valuable role player, primarily on special teams and on third-down passing situations. He gained 40 yards on nine carries in last year's Super Bowl.