Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Things Aren't Always As They Appear

The recent arrest of a former Indiana State Police detective, Ryan Harmon, and the bizarre circumstances of his arrest, have not gone unnoticed by me. A number of readers have asked me to look into this incident more closely and get to the bottom of it. The moment I first read a New Year's Eve report by WRTV's Rafael Sanchez about Harmon's arrest at the Indianapolis International Airport on Saturday, December 28, I suspected there was much more to the story than the drive-by hit piece contained in Sanchez' report.

According to Sanchez, Harmon was stopped by airport police for speeding 62 mph in a 25-mile per hour zone on the lower level of the airport. It seems improbable to me that a driver could possibly operate a vehicle at a speed that high in that particular area, speed bumps and all, without losing control of the vehicle. The arresting police officer claimed that Harmon told him he was rushing to the airport to pick up a flight ticket purchased for him by President Obama, and that he was also a U.S. marshal. Sanchez, quoting from a police report, says that Harmon also threatened the police officer. The report stated that Harmon was later transported to Eskenazi Hospital for a mental evaluation after police claimed Harmon's mother told them that he suffered from bipolar disorder. Police claimed they found marijuana in Harmon's car. For reasons that are unclear, the Morgan County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant on Harmon's home on December 30, where they claim they recovered property belonging to the Indiana State Police and the U.S. Marshal's Office. Sanchez reported that Harmon could face charges for possession of marijuana, reckless driving, impersonating a police officer and possession of stolen property.

To put all of this into perspective, it's necessary to learn more about who Harmon is and what has transpired in his life over the past several years. Harmon was a highly-decorated detective at the Indiana State Police for a number of years before losing his job following a traffic incident in downtown Indianapolis in 2010 after he was charged with criminal mischief for leaving the scene of an accident after backing into a parked motorcycle while driving an unmarked police vehicle after leaving a bar on South Meridian Street. Harmon had a top security clearance at the State Police where he served as the agency's liaison to the Indianapolis FBI office where he was assigned to work for a period of time. Harmon had access to some of the police agency's most sensitive investigations, including public corruption cases. In a manner of speaking, Harmon knew where all the bodies were buried, a fact known all the way up the ranks to Gov. Mitch Daniels. Harmon's attorney at the time, Jim Voyles, offered an eerie warning to him at the time that "they're coming after you."

After leaving the ISP, Harmon began working as a private investigator out of his home town in Martinsville and developed an expertise in electronic surveillance. Harmon says his expert testimony as an electronics surveillance expert has helped 23 defendants in 13 different states facing federal charges win acquittals. Among the defendants retaining Harmon's services was former Secretary of State Charlie White. Harmon analyzed White's cell phone GPS data and determined that the evidenced definitively proved that he primarily spent the nights at the home of his ex-wife during the period state prosecutors claimed that he was actually residing at a condominium in which he intended to reside when he married his second wife. Believing that prosecutors had failed to prove the vote fraud and other charges against White, his trial attorney, former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, refused to put on a defense, including offering the testimony of Harmon. White was later found guilty by a jury of six of the seven felony charges brought against him.

After leaving the ISP, Harmon became aware of the fact that former Martinsville basketball coach Tim Wolf was having a sexual relationship with a female student at the high school. Harmon's mother, a former counselor at the school, learned that Morgan Co. Prosecutor Steve Sonnega's son, Tyler, had taken a cell phone video of Wolf and the female student walking on the football field late one night holding hands. Sonnega later admitted that he had viewed his son's cell phone video but concluded that it proved nothing. Wolf had told school officials that he was merely counseling the student and had no sexual relationship with her. Harmon pushed an investigation of Wolf's involvement with the student to school officials and law enforcement in Martinsville, a move he believes resulted in an effort by other powerful individuals, including local law enforcement, to retaliate against him. Harmon pressed for an investigation nearly a full year before Wolf was eventually arrested in February, 2012 in Indianapolis' Eagle Creek Park after police found him in a car with the 17-year old girl with his pants down. An investigation following Wolf's arrest led to the discovery that the school's tennis coach, Jeff McGown, also had a sexual relationship with the student. Both coaches gave up their jobs, pleaded guilty to child seduction charges and were given 9 months probation.

Harmon also later provided information to Martinsville Mayor Phil Deckard and local police about allegations of a high-ranking city employee sexually assaulting a woman. The matter was referred to Sonnega, who asked Harmon's former employer, ISP, to investigate the allegations. After ISP concluded that no crime had occurred, Sonnega in an extraordinary move charged Harmon with three counts of false reporting for each person to whom he had reported the sexual assault allegation, including the mayor. The 39-year old Harmon was arrested by police publicly on the courthouse square in Martinsville in April, 2012 to maximize damage to his reputation in the community. He was later found guilty on all three counts after the judge hearing the case, Christopher Burnham, refused to allow Harmon's attorney to offer evidence related to his client's role in pushing the investigation of Wolf that was swept under the rug by Sonnega, local police and school officials until Wolf's arrest in 2012 left them with no other choice than to open a serious investigation. Harmon's attorney believed the evidence would help prove that charges were brought against his client as a retaliatory move on the part of the prosecutor and police. Sonnega later appointed a special prosecutor to handle the Wolf and McGown cases because of his son's role in providing evidence in the case that he concluded was of no value. (See this report by Fox 59's Russ McQuaid for more background on the Wolf/McGown cases).

More recently, former Secretary of State Charlie White's attorney called Harmon as a witness during his petition for post-conviction relief in Hamilton County. White's attorney contends that his trial attorney, Carl Brizzi, provided ineffective counsel by, among other things, refusing to put on a defense. Prior to Brizzi's testimony at the hearing, a verbal altercation occurred between Brizzi and Harmon during which Brizzi warned Harmon that he had better watch his back. Judge Daniel Pfleging later provided a court room admonishment to witnesses and courtroom observers after attorneys for both sides conferenced with him behind closed doors about the matter. Brizzi testified at the hearing that he had no part in retaining Harmon's services and would have never agreed to let him testify as a witness at White's trial because of the criminal mischief case his office handled while Harmon was at the ISP and the false reporting case down in Martinsville. Despite the substantive value of Harmon's evidence and the fact that Brizzi listed him as one of White's witnesses, Brizzi made no effort to procure a substitute expert witness and never bothered to tell White or Harmon that he would not be called as a witness.

As to Harmon's latest arrest, he insists that he was set up. Twitter posts made contemporaneously with the arrest on his Twitter account show that an acquaintance of Harmon, a writer for a late night talk show in Los Angeles, had tweeted him with instructions to pick up airline tickets he had acquired for him at the airport to make a flight out to LA where he could spend a few days. The next thing Harmon knew he was in police custody and taken to Eskenazi Hospital where he was detained for six days for psychological evaluation. Harmon, who seemed completely sober and clear-minded when I spoke to him about the incident, is as perplexed by some of the allegations contained in the police report cited in Sanchez' report as others. He flat out rejected the claim that he had any stolen police equipment at his home. Harmon does not rule out the possibility that he was unwittingly drugged before he made the trip to the airport, which could explain his lack of recollection and awareness of all that transpired before he found himself being detained at the hospital for psychological evaluation rather than sitting in a jail cell charged for actual crimes that he allegedly committed. At this point, I'm inclined to give Harmon the benefit of the doubt. It appears to me that there are just too many important people in this state who are acting very uneasy about information he learned in his former job at the State Police.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's the lower level of the airport! He has an easy defense: there are cameras everywhere there. If he was really speeding at 62 mph, surely the police would be able to produce some video of it captured by the airport authority....

Anonymous said...

Maybe those high ranking people should be worried. Maybe there's information out there that could really upset the apple cart. Apples usually have a worm or two.

Anonymous said...

Two of the Twitter micro-bloggers engaging Ryan Harmon are using false Twitter accounts. They convinced Harmon to go to IND to pick up airline tickets.

Anonymous said...

The gossip is that someone added lysergic acid diethylamide to Mr. Harmon’s medication. He knows toooo much! And needed to be discredited.

Mary Roger Bowser said...

WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO THIS COUNTRY?

guy77money said...

It's called "Survivor" "The Great Race" "Big Brother" - Sad but True!!!!! Pick your TV show (NCIS and all of the detective shows!) Life imitates Art - and TV is now our ART! I was raised on Andy Griffith! Thin about it!!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

More coming on this. Sit tight. Others whom also have been targets on matters on many departments now speaking out louder than ever...

Anonymous said...

Tag-team False Tweeters west coast Awesome Reggie and east coast William Shinely were traced back to Indiana. Surprised? Were Ryan Harmon and Charlie White were their only prey?

Anonymous said...

If you even had a clue how people doing honest business in Indiana have been ruined by friends and family corruption of under the table dealings, false lawsuits to ruin people and out right mis-reprensentation by the very government officials that were elected to protect citizens you all would leave Indiana and let the appointed and elected officials roll around in their own crap.

It is right in front of everyone in the legal system and those who are not lawyers have been told nothing could be proven,all the while the same legal professionals have their peers telling the people with the evidence that they will be destroyed and by gosh they are.

Mr. Sanchez knows a whole lot about chasing state officials around and watching them hide from only to be told to knock off his investigation or lose his job.

The legal profession and media know but oh well it is Indiana isn't it?

The little folks got the crap kicked out of them and now the good ole boys need to start protecting their own.....

How much room in Hades is there? I bet it is getting crowded with the Indiana contingent as they pass on.