A Mammoth Spring man is charged with harassing communications and terroristic threatening after he allegedly bugged the Cherokee Village Police Department's phone lines.
Joe Michael Harper, 36, was arrested May 2 by the Ash Flat Police Department on the warrant and was booked in the Sharp County Jail where he posted a $2,300 bond for the class A misdemeanors and was released.
Cherokee Village police accuse Harper, who owns and operates Harper's Telecommunications and Fiber Optics, of bugging their phone lines and the phone lines of his ex-wife, Glenda Harper, and possibly others in order to harass his ex-wife.
In order to legally tape phone conversations at least one of the parties must know the conversation is being recording, said Detective Ken Guidry.
On March 3 Kay Carlisle of the police department notified Guidry that Glenda Harper told her Harper had made comments about conversations she and Carlisle had. Four days later Glenda Harper called Carlisle telling her that Harper had called her at work and told her he knew she had just spoken to Carlisle at the police department at 7:30 that morning, Guidry said. Glenda Harper also said she found a digital recorder hooked to her bedroom phone. Harper told her he had placed the device in that location, Guidry said.
Guidry and Mayor Ray Maynard, who is also an auxiliary officer with the department, began checking phone pods near the police department. During that time Carlisle went to visit Glenda Harper at work. The two women noticed a small red vehicle pull off the roadway in front of the Copper Feather Club in Cherokee Village. The driver left the vehicle and went to the green phone pod nearby, opened it and inspected it and then ran back to the car and left, Guidry said. Carlisle told police and said the man looked similar to Harper.
Harper contacted Maynard by phone on March 31 telling him he had information regarding unprofessional behavior of several employees of the police department, Guidry said.
Maynard met with Harper in Saddle with a hidden recorder with him. Guidry was nearby in an unmarked car, Guidry said. Harper played excerpts of a tape that contained several private conversations between his ex-wife and Carlisle, Guidry said. Harper told Maynard he would tell people he found the tape in his mailbox if anyone asked him, but later admitted to making 27 tapes of phone conversations, according to police
Cherokee Village police began investigating claims of harassment against Harper in 2005 when contacted by Glenda Harper when the couple were separated pending their divorce, Guidry said. After the divorce became final, the harassment continued almost daily and spilled over to the police department in the form of verbal and written attacks, Guidry said.
"Mr. Harper had demonstrated extremely obsessive behavior towards his now ex-wife and has imagined her being involved in a relationship with a member of the police department," Guidry wrote in a report.
Harper also allegedly harassed Police Chief Scott Goodwin by calling his home and hanging up and threatening to "knock his teeth out."
Harper also allegedly sent e-mailed messages to Guidry's wife at work claiming to be a man by the name of Bill Cowert, a deputy attorney general, who said he had possession of taped conversations between Carlisle and Glenda Harper. The IP address obtained from the e-mail by Maynard showed the messages came from Harper's address, Guidry said.
Harper is also charged with criminal impersonation, interception and recording and child endangerment. He is scheduled to appear in Cherokee Village District Court May 19 for his first appearance.