By Patrick Winderl
A Havre man has received a suspended sentence for stealing two lawn tractors and also has been sentenced to two years with the state Department of Corrections on a separate drug charge.
Timothy James Harmon, 25, was sentenced Friday by District Judge E. Wayne Phillips. The judge imposed a 10-year suspended sentence for two felony theft convictions. He also sentenced Harmon to 15 years for possession of dangerous drugs and suspended all but two years. Harmon will be eligible for parole in six months.
Harmon must also pay a $5,000 fine to the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, pay $2,900 in restitution and perform 5,000 hours of community service.
Phillips assumed jurisdiction in the case on March 7, 2002, after District Judge John Warner recused himself for undisclosed reasons.
A jury convicted Harmon on Jan. 7 of two counts of felony theft and one misdemeanor theft charge for stealing the lawn tractors and a utility trailer. Harmon testified Friday that his methamphetamine addiction was partly to blame for the thefts.
Harmon entered a guilty plea Friday to the drug charge.
The judge accepted probation officer Ed Schmidt's recommendation that Phillips order the Department of Corrections to evaluate Harmon for possible drug treatment rather than sentencing him directly to prison. Schmidt said Harmon would not likely receive treatment if he were sentenced to prison.
Harmon's father, Ron Harmon, testified that his son has been employed, and appeared to be making healthy decisions. He said his son had been demonstrating a better attitude over the past year, and asked Phillips to consider treatment as an alternative to prison.
Jim Jenkins, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Havre, testified that Harmon had been attending church for the past month and appeared to be sincere when asking for spiritual guidance. He said he believed Harmon was committed to changing his life.
Phillips commended Harmon for his efforts to change his life.
"Any half-wit can see you're laying the foundation for a new life," Phillips said. "I have to take that into consideration. But you must consider that the damage that drugs do to a community go far beyond yourself and your family."
Harmon was charged in January of 2002 with stealing the two lawn tractors and a utility trailer in the fall of 2001. According to the charging document, the thefts first came to light when a woman confessed to police that she had accompanied Harmon when he stole one of the tractors.
The woman, Erica Dion, was being held in the Hill County Detention Center on unrelated charges at the time.
Dion told police Harmon confided to her that he had stolen the first tractor from a farm implement dealership in Livingston in August 2001, the complaint said. She testified at the trial that she traveled with Harmon to Bozeman that October and witnessed him stealing the utility trailer in Bozeman and the second lawn tractor in Livingston.
Harmon sold the tractors to residents of the Havre area for $1,000 and $1,500, and older-model trade-ins, Dion testified. According to the criminal complaint, the tractors were worth $3,000 and $4,500.
Harmon testified that Dion told him the tractors were given to her by people who owed her money, and that he transported and sold the two tractors at her request. He testified that he did not know the tractors were stolen.
Harmon claimed he loaded one tractor with the help of two friends, both of whom took the stand and denied the incident.
Dion was originally charged in connection with the incident, but charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement in another case.