DEMOREST - Demorest attorney Bruce Harkness is speaking out after entering a plea last week on three charges and receiving a sentence.
"I entered a plea to three misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct and I got two years' probation, a $1,000 fine, 40 hours of community service, and 45 days of house arrest, which is also at my office because I live upstairs at my office," Harkness said. "Thankfully, I am allowed to still practice law but I will not be making any court appearances for the next 45 days."
Harkness' plea was entered before Senior Judge Stephen Boswell Friday afternoon in Habersham County Superior Court.
He received 12 months of probation on each of the three counts of reckless conduct, with counts 1 and 2 to be served consecutively, and count 3 to be served consecutively.
Original charges included six counts of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance in violation of Georgia law, and six counts of use of a communication facility to commit a felony.
"The main thing I want people to know is that I have been a Christian and active in various churches for over 41 years and yes I did make a mistake, but I wanted to clarify the issues because so many lies and rumors were going around."
Harkness said injuries and other surgeries necessitated him taking prescription medicine.
"I have never, ever used drugs of any kind, nor have I ever sold drugs of any kind," Harkness said. "I had six major operations in the last two years because an at-fault party hit me head-on and ran me into a ravine, which caused me to have major neck fusion surgery as well as rotator cuff repair surgery on both shoulders, as well as hand and jaw surgery and a surgery for kidney stones."
Sharing his side of the incidents that led up to the criminal charges, Harkness says he gave away his own medication.
"The facts are last November an old friend of 14 years started calling me asking me for some of my prescription medication and, as 75 percent of Americans have done, I gave her some of my own doctor-prescribed legal medication," Harkness said. "I did not know that she was working with the police and so I was arrested for giving away my own prescription medication, which is illegal and I take full responsibility for that. I ask everyone to forgive me for that mistake and please allow me to work with God's help to rebuild everyone's faith, trust, and confidence in me."
Harkness said he is thankful for the support he has received from friends.
"I have lived and worked all my life in Habersham County and I am so thankful for all the prayers, calls, visits, e-mails, and letters from so many great friends who have supported me through this difficult time," Harkness said. "I have dedicated my life to helping others and, yes, I own up to giving away my own meds which is illegal and I should have known better. I am truly sorry for having a lapse of judgment."
Harkness said he has complied with searches and random drug tests.
"I allowed the police to search all my premises, storage facility, cars, and all my properties and nothing was found whatsoever that was illegal or drug-related on my properties or in my possession. I have also submitted over the last five months to six random supervised drug screens, which were sent off to a screening company, and no drugs and no alcohol were found in my system."
Harkness formerly served as a member of the Demorest City Council, a position he resigned in 2011 to run for the Georgia House District 10 seat.
"I again ask for everyone's prayers and support," Harkness said.