Dealer gets life in prison

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Red Level man with an extensive rap sheet in several Alabama counties was sentenced to life in prison Monday in a Lowndes County courtroom and still faces charges in both Covington and Conecuh counties.



Jeremy Lee Gardner, 42, was sentenced to life after he pleaded guilty to trafficking methamphetamine. He was arrested outside a gas station in Letohatchee in 2013 with nearly $10,000 in methamphetamines.

Lowndes County District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer said Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell was brought in as a special prosecutor, and will also serve in that capacity in association with Gardner’s charges in Conecuh County. Merrell himself said he asked for the appointment because of Gardner’s long criminal history in Covington County.

“I asked those other D.A.’s if I could seek a special appointment,” Merrell said. “Gardner has been a blight on the people of Covington County, and I wanted to make certain that he went to prison for a very, very long time.”

And Merrell said Gardner could very well find himself facing more time if convicted in the other counties.

“This conviction and sentence represents a substantial stoppage of the importation of ice methamphetamine into Covington County,” Merrell said. “Mr. Gardner has been one of the biggest drug importers into our county for the last few years.”

Merrell said authorities believe Gardner was en route to Andalusia when he was arrested in Lowndes County in November. At that time, Merrell said, Gardner was out on bond from charges related to a previous drug charge.

“Gardner was out on a $1 million bond for a trafficking-in-methamphetamine arrest in Covington County,” Merrell said. “He also had charges pending in Conecuh County for possession of approximately $2,000 worth of Ice Methamphetamine.”

Merrell said Gardner was arrested in Covington County on Sept. 8, 2013, after leading authorities on a high-speed chase that began in the Loango community. Gardner eventually abandoned his vehicle and fled the scene on foot. Merrell said agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives later recovered approximately $4,000 worth of Ice Methamphetamine from the vehicle. Later that day, Conecuh County law enforcement executed a search warrant on a residence rented by Gardner and found an additional $2,000 worth of Ice Methamphetamine. Merrell said charges in both Covington and Conecuh are still pending, but expects that, because of the conviction in Lowndes County, the other cases will soon be resolved.

Mark Odom, commander of the 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force said Gardner is a habitual offender with drug charges dating back to the 1990s, adding that many Alabama counties will be safer without him on the streets.

“Covington, Conecuh, Butler, Crenshaw and Coffee counties will be better places because Gardner is behind bars for the rest of his life,” Odom said.