By T.J. Pyette
A Havre man was convicted of two felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft charge in state District Court after a jury deliberated for just over an hour Tuesday evening.
Timothy J. Harmon was charged last January in connection with two separate incidents that occurred in the fall of 2001. A criminal complaint said Harmon stole two John Deere lawn tractors from an implement dealership in Livingston and a utility trailer from Big R Supply in Bozeman, and sold them to Havre residents.
Harmon proclaimed his innocence throughout the trial.
"I didn't do it. I swear to God," he told the jury as he wiped tears from his eyes during his testimony.
Harmon said he only transported the mowers and sold them on consignment for a friend, Erica Dion. Harmon said he didn't know the mowers were stolen and that Dion told him they were given to her by someone who owed her money.
"I thought I was doing a good deed for her," he added.
The thefts were brought to the attention of authorities last January when Dion, who was incarcerated at the Hill County Detention Center on unrelated charges, told a Havre police officer that she was with Harmon when he stole the second lawn tractor in October of 2001, according to testimony.
Dion testified that Harmon told her he had stolen the first mower in August of 2001 with two friends. She said she rode with Harmon to Bozeman in October 2001 because she wanted to collect a debt owed her by two Havre men who were living in Bozeman at the time.
Dion testified that when she and Harmon reached Bozeman, they were unable to locate the two men, and, after driving around Bozeman for a while, Harmon stopped at Big R Supply where he hooked up a two-wheeled utility trailer to his pick-up.
Dion said Harmon then drove to Livingston and loaded the mower onto the trailer. She said they then drove on back roads to Hill County.
According to testimony, Harmon sold the tractors to Havre-area residents for $1,000 and $1,500, and older-model trade-ins. The tractors were worth about $4,000 each.
Harmon took the stand Tuesday and said Dion lied to police and was responsible for the thefts.
Harmon said he and Dion had just completed a fiber-optic school in Bozeman on October 5 when Dion told him that she was owed a debt by someone in Bozeman and that the person was going to give her a lawn tractor for payment.
Harmon said Dion asked him if he would transport the mower and sell it for her. He said she led him to the mower that night, which was sitting at an approach by the highway about five miles south of Livingston, with the key in the ignition. Harmon said his friends, Billy Baer and Kaine Hanson, were riding with him back to Havre and helped him load the tractor.
Both Baer and Hanson testified that they were not with Harmon, and neither has been charged in connection with the thefts.
On Oct. 8, Harmon said, Dion told him there was another mower to be picked up at the same location and that they retrieved the mower together.
Harmon testified that the sale of the mowers had no connection to his father's implement business, Big Equipment Co. of Havre. He added that he had never worked as a salesman for his father, Ron Harmon, but hoped to try out his sales skills by consigning and selling the mowers on his own.
Harmon's eyes filled with tears as he said, "I would never put my father or his business in this position."
Dion was originally charged as a co-defendant in the theft of the second mower, but the charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement wherein she pleaded guilty to unrelated felony theft and forgery charges.