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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pre-trial hearing for one-time gambling kingpin Erik Davis Harp, on concealed-weapon charge in Bay County, Florida, has been delayed until December


Erik Davis Harp
A pre-trial hearing in the concealed-weapon case of Erik Davis Harp has been continued until December in Bay County, Florida, court.

Harp once was a business partner with Jessica Medeiros Garrison, an Alabama Republican operative and former campaign manager for Attorney General Luther Strange. Harp was indicted in 2009 in Queens, New York, as one of two alleged ringleaders in an illegal offshore sports gambling operation. The ring, which had a "wire room" in Panama, reportedly generated more than $20 million a month -- totaling about $567 million in a 28-month period leading to arrests.

Harp was arrested on March 15 for allegedly carrying a concealed 9 mm handgun into a government building -- the Bay County Courthouse in Panama City Beach, Florida. A pre-trial hearing was set for June 9, but that now has been postponed until 1:30 p.m. on December 15. (See court document at the end of this post.)

This seems like a straightforward case; either law-enforcement officers caught Harp carrying a concealed handgun into the Bay Courthouse or they didn't; Harp has a legitimate defense or he doesn't. (If he does, it's hard to imagine what it would be.)

It's also hard to imagine why a pre-trial hearing would need to be postponed for more than six months. Criminal defendants are guaranteed access to a speedy trial, but depending on whether a plea deal is cut or a trial date is set, this one could take more than a year to be resolved. All of that for a case that seems to revolve around a simple question: Did Erik D. Harp enter the courthouse with a concealed weapon or not?


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Delayed for six months? Something funky is going on with this case.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if he has a defense or what it is. The prosecution must prove each and every point of its case, as in all criminal cases. It really isn't unusual for a defense to attack prosecution witnesses, present no witnesses of its own then argue that the prosecution failed to prove its case. In fact, that probably is the most effective defense strategy you will find.

That being said, there probably are plea negotiations taking place. Most criminal cases have them.

Of course the defendant has the right to a speedy trial, but if he doesn't invoke that right, delays can and will happen. Delays in criminal court usually benefit the defense, but delays are so common to suggest one in a case this fresh points to a conspiracy holds little credibility.

legalschnauzer said...

Good points, @2:44, and your points might help explain the delay. For the record, I'm not suggesting a conspiracy; I just find it odd that such a criminal case would need to have a lengthy delay. You mention some interesting possibilities, plus who knows about this judge's particular style or his docket. Will try to stay on top of this one.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what kind of business Mr. Harp had at the courthouse that day. If he didn't have any business, why was he there with a concealed gun?

Anonymous said...

I would think Federal gun law 18 U.S.C. 922N may come into play.

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting idea, @4:34. Here is how that statute reads:

"(n) It shall be unlawful for any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm or ammunition or receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce."


You are thinking Harp might be under indictment already?

Anonymous said...

@ 4:32 a courthouse is a public facility. One does not need an official reason to be there. Also, until convicted, he allegedly was there with a concealed gun.


As for the indictment, I saw that as a reference to his NY gambling indictment. That indictment was 7 years ago. Surely that matter has been disposed of by now, but I can't find any online record of it.

If the gambling indictment was dismissed, he no longer is subject to firearms restrictions because of it. It he was convicted, then it becomes a felon in possession of a firearm case.

legalschnauzer said...

Good points, @6:18, but I should note that the post does say he was there "allegedly" with a concealed gun. I agree that one does not need an official reason to be at a courthouse. But if you appear there with a gun, it raises this question: Was he planning to use the gun, on whom, and why? There certainly could be a "rest of the story" here. I assume the Bay County Sheriff's Office is competent enough to check Mr. Harp's schedule, perhaps his communications, to determine if he just forgot he had the gun on him or he had plans to harm someone.

Another point: I'm not into guns, but whenever I see a case like this, I wonder, "Why did he not just get a permit? It's surely not that hard to do."

Anonymous said...

"Why did he not just get a permit? It's surely not that hard to do."

Not too long ago, I was on a 3-day-a-week, two-month federal grand jury panel and we handled close to 100 cases, most of which ended in indictments. Guns and drugs were the main crimes, with ridiculous car chases, robbery, assault, some gang/illegal alien issues (much of which involved teen hormone overload), attempted murder, etc. thrown in. Not to judge, but lots of nonsensically stupid actions by the perps (they never appeared and some were still on the loose) in these cases, that left everyone shaking their heads.

Anonymous said...

@646. He may have had a permit. Even with a permit, one can't take a weapon into certain places. Courthouses, in general, are such places. Note his isn't charged with concealed without a permit.

If one has a clean record, it is just a matter of red tape and money to get a permit. Any felony conviction and some misdemeanor convictions mean no permit (just as they mean no legal purchase of a firearm.) I just don't think the permit or lack of is the big issue here.

My reference on allegedly was to 4:32, who does not include allegedly in his/her post.

Anonymous said...

Note the handwritten "refer to PTI" which means he's been referred to "pre-trial intervention" which is a way of wiping the charge away so long as he performs what ever conditions are required and he stays out of trouble for a set period of time.

Anonymous said...

Did he serve any time for the $million off-shore gambling operation?
http://www.fivefamiliesnyc.com/2009/10/mob-linked-gambling-ring-busted-in.html

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for your insights, @8:53. I wondered what "PTI" meant, and you've explained it. Do you think that is the reason for the lengthy continuance, to see if he complies with conditions that have been set?

Anonymous said...

Yes, for the PTI he does what ever is required of the prosecutor and judge (community service, fines, etc.) stays out of trouble for the set period of time, and his record gets wiped clean.

Anonymous said...

Also, the "speedy trial" only applies to the accused if they demand a "speedy trial", if they don't there is no obligation on the state to prosecute quickly. This is especially true with all the backed up dockets around the country.

legalschnauzer said...

Good question, @10:17, and I don't know the answer. I don't think Harp served any time on that, might have forfeited some money, but not sure. Need to research that more, and it's high on my to-do list.

Anonymous said...

Do you know of any dots connecting Jessica Garrison's Margaritaville LLC to the Margaritaville Casino that open in Biloxi Mississippi in 2012 and closed in 2014.

Anonymous said...

LS, don't let this story go...my feeling is that there's plenty behind this story and gosh knows what was in front of it...