Texas – Two Vidor, Texas women have pleaded guilty to federal drug
trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S.
Attorney Stephen J. Cox today.
Catherine Ardis, 62, and Michelle Lea Harrington, 51, pleaded guilty
today to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled
substance, namely hydromorphone, before U.S. District Judge Marcia A.
According to information presented in court,
Harrington lived at a home located on FM 105 North in Vidor, Texas, in
which several other persons, including Ardis, also resided. Federal
agents began their investigation of Harrington and Ardis in June of 2019
after three persons died as a result of opiates purchased from Ardis at
this home. Medical examination of the deceased persons determined that
the victims died from poly-drug toxicity resulting from the use of
hydromorphone pills, also referred to as Dilaudid. As part of the
factual basis for the plea, Ardis admitted to selling the hydromorphone
pills that resulted in the death of the three victims.
“Trafficking of drugs ordinarily only available by prescription
places the public at great risk,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox.
“The United States is committed to punishing those that seek to profit
by distributing such drugs outside the watchful care of a doctor.”
“The drug trafficker who provides the drug that causes or contributes
to the overdose death of a person will be held accountable,” said
Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple of the DEA Houston Division.
“The DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to commit
significant resources to the identification and investigation of those
who cause the death of another human, whether by violence or overdose.”
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the defendants
with federal drug trafficking crimes on March 4, 2020. Under federal
statutes, Ardis and Harrington face up to 20 years in federal prison.
The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here
for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the
court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory
factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of
a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
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 prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A.