Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jun 2010
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (Jackson, MS)
Copyright: 2010 The Clarion-Ledger


A Ridgeland man has been handed a 60-year sentence for selling cocaine
in Rankin and Madison counties.

William Thornton Harper, 31, also pleaded guilty to a 2001 charge of
stealing a law enforcement vehicle in Madison County. Through the plea
agreement, the last 20 years of his sentence were suspended, according
to a statement from District Attorney Michael Guest, who serves both

On March 7, 2008, the Flowood Police Department, through the use of a
confidential informant, attempted to purchase cocaine from Harper. The
informant contacted Harper and established a time and place to meet
him in order to purchase $300 of powder cocaine. When Harper arrived
at the pre-arraigned meeting location he became suspicious that he had
been set up, and he attempted to leave before the transaction occurred.

Harper started to leave in his car, but law enforcement decided to
arrest Harper and blocked his car with theirs as he attempted to leave
the area.

Harper jumped out of his vehicle, and a foot chase ensued, involving
severalofficers. A police dog was released and was able to force
Harper into an enclosed fence where officers found him hiding in the
bed of a Ford F150.

Harper Was Then Taken Into Custody

Law enforcement officers then searched the area and located five bags
of cocaine that Harper had hidden. Officers also searched Harper's
vehicle, where they found a loaded .40 caliber handgun. Harper later
was released on a $100,000 bond.

On March 19, 2009, the Ridgeland Police Department obtained
information that Harper was still selling cocaine and the informant
agreed to contact him to attempt to set up a drug deal. The informant
was equipped with a video and recording device and was given $100 in
buy money to purchase the drugs from Harper.

Harper agreed to meet the informant in the parking lot of his
apartment complex. When the informant arrived, Harper got into the
driver's side of the confidential informant's car where the
transaction occurred. Harper exited the vehicle and got into his car
and was driving away as law enforcement officials moved in to arrest
him. Harper once again attempted to leave on foot. Harper was arrested
minutes after he fled.

The five $20 bills, which were used by the confidential informant to
purchase the cocaine, were found in Harper's pocket. Harper's vehicle
was searched and additional drugs were found. A search warrant was
issued to search Harper's house where a duffle bag was found that
contained multiple illegal drugs.

Harper also pleaded guilty on an unrelated automobile theft that
occurred on October 18, 2001. In that case, during a routine traffic
check, the Madison County Sheriff's Office was told by Harper that he
did not have a driver's license. The deputy then had Harper pull his
car over to the side while he called dispatch with his license number.
The deputy was informed that the license was suspended due to two
DUIs. Harper was then handcuffed and placed into the back of the law
enforcement vehicle.

The officers then started talking with Harper's passenger and asked
permission to search the car. Permission was granted. The deputy then
placed the passenger in the back of the cruiser with Harper. Once the
deputy started walking toward the other car to conduct the search, he
heard his car leaving the scene. The car was chased about a mile
before Harper was stopped and arrested.

"Harper's days of supplying drugs on our streets, in our neighborhoods
and possibly in our schools are over," said Guest. "Harper is an
example of an extreme drug dealer who will never stop selling drugs
and must be warehoused to protect our community." 
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