Vernal man sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking, arms charges

Steven Hardinger. File photo: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 29, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A Vernal man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of meth with intent to distribute and to carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense.

Steven Dean Hardinger, 35, was sentenced Thursday in federal court. He has been documented as a leader of the Soldiers of Aryan Culture, a white supremacist gang in Utah, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah.

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper arrested Hardinger following a traffic stop in Juab County on Interstate 15, the statement says. Hardinger was speeding, and was driving on an expired licence. He also provided an expired rental car agreement that was not in his name.

The rental car was impounded, and searched. Officials found four handguns, including a loaded one under the driver’s seat. A trooper also found a hollowed-out book containing 297 grams of methamphetamine in the car.

As part of a plea agreement, Hardinger admitted he intended to distribute the meth to another person, the statement says.

A federal grand jury indicted Hardinger on drug and firearm charges in May of 2017.


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