Clarence Harmon, veteran running back released by the Washington Redskins two weeks ago, was put on probation for 10 years and fined $5,000 yesterday after pleading guilty in a Texarkana, Tex., district court to possession of a controlled substance.
Louis Raffaelli, Bowie County (Tex.) district attorney and prosecutor in the case, said he reached a plea-bargain agreement with Spencer Kopf, Harmon's attorney, approximately two months ago. Raffaelli said Harmon will not have to serve time in prison, "but he will have to report monthly to his probation officer."
Late last night, Kopf said that, under the plea bargain, Harmon, 27, may petition the court to be released from probation after two years. Furthermore, Kopf said, "Clarence's record is expunged. He entered a plea of guilty; he was put on probation; but when he walked out of the courtroom today, he had no criminal record."
Ike Forte, a running back who played for the Redskins in 1978-80, also pleaded guilty to a third-degree charge of possession of a controlled substance yesterday and received the same sentence as Harmon.Forte and Harmon appeared at a 15-minute hearing yesterday before Bowie County District Judge Guy Jones.
Harmon, who played six years for the Redskins,was unavailable for comment yesterday. But Kopf said: "Clarence was relieved. He said, 'I'm glad it's over.' He wants to play football still. He feels he can contribute to a team a lot."
Kopf said several teams have expressed interest in Harmon, though he did not specify which teams. General Manager Bobby Beathard of the Redskins said last night that his team is not interested in reacquiring Harmon.
Kopf said, "It was our understanding that because of his (previous) status, Clarence was considered an untouchable because of the Rozelle ruling. Now, he's not an untouchable."
Kopf referred to a decision made in July by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who suspended four players--Pete Johnson, Ross Browner, E.J. Junior and Greg Stemrick--for four games this season for cocaine involvement. Rozelle could not be reached for comment on how Harmon's guilty plea would affect his playing status should he attempt to rejoin the NFL.