Washington Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Shooting in Tri-Cities and Conspiring to Distribute Fentanyl-Laced Pills
Man Has Extensive Criminal History
Fake pills containing fentanyl
RICHLAND, Wash.– On March 8, 2023, Senior United States District Judge Edward F. Shea sentenced Jonathan Scott Ard, 30, of Richland, Washington, to 12 years in in federal prison after his guilty plea to federal fentanyl and gun charges. Ard will also serve 5 years of federal supervision after he is released from custody. During the sentencing hearing, Judge Shea noted Ard’s long criminal record, which began when he was 14 years old and includes a significant history of crimes of violence. Judge Shea also expressed concern about the fact that Ard was under the supervision of the Washington Department of Corrections when he engaged in his current misconduct.
“By leveraging our law enforcement partnerships, we were able to remove Mr. Ard from the community where he has repeatedly distributed deadly fentanyl-laced pills and presented significant danger to the community through his violent actions,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, the investigation began in December 2020 when Ard was in his car smoking a fentanyl-laced pill and in possession of distribution quantities of fentanyl and a loaded firearm. Another person approached Ard’s car, and Ard – acting in what a different court concluded was self-defense – got out of his car and shot the person in the leg. Ard then retrieved drug-related items from the car and went into his house; he neither alerted authorities nor sought emergency aid for the person he had just shot. To the contrary, he soon came back outside to retrieve more items from his car, and simply walked past his victim, who was laying on the ground after being shot by Ard. Ard then barricaded himself inside from law enforcement before eventually surrendering. When law enforcement officers searched Ard’s home, they recovered approximately 500 fentanyl-laced pills and the gun Ard had used in the shooting.
Ard went into custody on state charges but continued to conspire with other people to distribute fentanyl from inside the jail. He was released from state custody and was arrested again after fleeing from law enforcement at a motel in Richland in March 2021. When he was arrested the second time, Ard had a loaded gun with him, along with another approximately 400 fentanyl-laced pills, a distribution quantity of heroin, and drug paraphernalia. Law enforcement officers searched Ard’s cellular telephone and recovered additional drug-related evidence and numerous pictures and social media posts by Ard idealizing his criminal lifestyle.
Fentanyl is the new face of the opioid epidemic and the leading cause of overdose deaths across the country. According to DEA, in 2021 there was enough lethal fentanyl seized to kill every single American in the United States. Based on DEA lab confirmations, 6 in every 10 fentanyl laced pills contain a lethal dose. In Benton and Franklin Counties, the rate of overdose deaths increased to a high of 23 people per 100,000 in a year in 2020, or about 70 deaths in 2020, an increase in a year of more than 100%. Department of Health records from Spokane County show over an 186% increase in fentanyl-related overdoses between 2020 and 2021 and a 1233% increase in fentanyl-related overdoses in the four-year period between 2017 and 2021. Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, commended the joint efforts of law enforcement: “Drug distribution and gun violence are a scourge in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere. It is particularly disheartening that an offender with an extensive criminal history – who had already shot another person while in possession of distribution quantities of fentanyl – was released pending trial, only to continue possessing loaded firearms and additional fentanyl for distribution.”
U.S. Attorney Waldref continued: “I commend the collaborative efforts of the Richland Police Department, DEA, FBI, and LEAD Task Force, who work together seamlessly to keep Eastern Washington safe and strong. The people in this community are also incredibly fortunate to be represented in federal court by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter, who spearheads federal drug prosecutions in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere.”
“Even incarceration did not deter Mr. Ard from conspiring to distribute fentanyl and continue a lifestyle of lawlessness,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Additionally, he’s an offender who has proven his willingness to use violence. For the safety of our community, I hope significant time in federal prison will prevent him from conducting other criminal activities and send a message about the commitment of the law enforcement community to fight violence. This case highlights the work of the FBI and our partners with the US Attorney’s Office, DEA, and Richland Police Department to stop the spread of fentanyl.”
This case was investigated by the Richland Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Law Enforcement Against Drugs Task Force in the Tri-Cities. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.