Columbus resident arrested in SWAT operation sentenced

The Columbus man who resided where six people were arrested during an early-summer SWAT team operation will be sent to prison.

David M. Hardin, 43, of 1945 Dawnshire Drive, was ordered to serve seven years with the Indiana Department of Correction on Thursday by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin.

The case was detailed in a probable-cause affidavit filed June 21 by an undercover member of the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET).

It began when local narcotics officers received a call from Greensburg Police detective Mark Naylor, who had obtained a search warrant for Hardin’s home in Columbus’ Eastgate Addition, the affidavit stated.

The detective believed Hardin was selling large amounts of illegal drugs, with one source claiming to have purchased up to a half-pound of crystal methamphetamine from him at one time, the affidavit stated.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates the street value for that amount ranges from $5,000 to $15,000.

Since Naylor had reason to believe Hardin was armed, the SWAT team was brought in to assist, but no shots were fired during the June 15 search, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said.

Inside a black leather bag found on a garage workbench, police found almost 60 grams of crystal meth, as well as $548 in cash, the affidavit stated. In addition, the search also turned up two handguns in the garage.

On a kitchen table, police found a digital scale, as well as a financial ledger in a closet that investigators believe was used to keep track of drug sales, the affidavit stated.

Heroin, as well as a small amount of marijuana, also was found, Harris said in June.

Hardin was one of six people inside the home taken to jail that night. After being charged with dealing in methamphetamine as a Level 2 felony, as well as possession of methamphetamine at a Level 3 felony, his bond was set at $700,000, court records state.

In August, defense attorney Mike DeArmitt asked that evidence gathered during the search be excluded because he claimed Greensburg police failed to establish probable cause for the search warrant.

Benjamin denied DeArmitt’s request Sept. 15. About a week later, on Sept. 21, Hardin agreed to plead guilty to the lesser possession charge if the more serious dealing charge was dropped.

In the plea bargain, prosecutors also agreed Hardin’s sentence should be no more than nine years in prison after verifying the defendant did not have a previous criminal history, court records state.

As part of her sentence Thursday, Benjamin said she will recommend that Hardin be placed in the state’s Purposeful Incarceration program, which was established in 2009.

That means the judge agrees to consider reducing Hardin’s sentence if he successfully completes a lengthy and intensive drug-treatment program while in prison.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.