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3 die from drug overdoses; area landlord held accountable

BEAUMONT — A 51-year-old Vidor woman has been sentenced to federal prison for maintaining a drug-involved premises, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.

Michelle Lea Harrington pleaded guilty Sep. 10. On Friday, she was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.

“Individuals who contribute to the unlawful trafficking of prescription opiates will be punished,” Ganjei said. “This conviction of a landlord who permitted the distribution of opioid pills in her residence is a clear message that our community will not tolerate those perpetuating the opioid crisis in southeast Texas.”

According to information presented in court, Harrington rented out a residence in Vidor to three individuals, including Catherine Ardis.

Harrington lived there, as well, and knew Ardis distributed hydromorphone pills, also known as Dilaudid, from the residence.

At least three people died as a result of opiates purchased at the home.

Medical examination determined the victims died from poly-drug toxicity resulting from the use of hydromorphone pills.

Catherine Ardis was previously sentenced to 15 years.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Vidor Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Beaumont Police Department, Port Arthur Police Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Anderson.