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A Chadron couple have been arrested in connection with several local burglaries and as part of an investigation into the manufacture and delivery of drugs in the region.

James and Mandi Hardy remain in jail on bonds of $75,000 each after their arrests in January. Mandi Hardy was arrested on suspicion of six felony charges, a misdemeanor and an infraction, while James Hardy was arrested on suspicion of three felonies. Mandi Hardy is also facing another misdemeanor criminal trespass count in a case filed prior to her arrest on the felony charges.

The couple came to the attention of Chadron Police Department in October 2018 after Mandi Hardy, 38, contacted law enforcement to report that she was locked inside Bomgaars after it had closed for the night. According to court documents, she told officers “she had fallen asleep hiding behind clothing while standing up inside the store.”

She was cited for criminal trespass in that incident, and when officers searched her purse, with her consent, they allegedly discovered homemade lockpicks.

Burglaries at two businesses that same month allegedly had links to James and Mandi Hardy. A burglary at S&J Imports was reported Oct. 1, in which $500 and a vehicle door unlocking kit were reported missing. Mandi Hardy used to work at the business. Court documents also say that GMC of Chadron reported a burglary later in October, which is believed to have been committed the same night Mandi Hardy found herself locked inside Bomgaars. More than $400 was missing in that incident. James Hardy, 33, was employed at the business at that time.

During the course of the investigation, police took another look at an open burglary dating back to 2009 in which more than $9,100 was stolen from an ATM at the local bowling alley. According to court documents, Mandi Hardy had been employed at the bowling alley, but no arrest was ever made in the case due to a lack of evidence.

Another report, this time of a stolen credit card, in January gave police the opportunity to secure a search warrant for the Hardy’s home and vehicles. The owner of the credit card told police she suspected Mandi Hardy – a relative – of stealing the card, which was used in Rapid City, S.D., where the fraudulent transaction was captured on video.

The search warrant request by the Chadron Police Department also noted that Mandi Hardy was known to have had contact with Nicholas King in December 2018. King was one of four individuals arrested in January on felony drug charges. Court documents also indicate that a confidential informant also told police the Hardys allegedly had most of the materials necessary to manufacture methamphetamine. Local pharmacy logs indicated that James Hardy allegedly had purchased controlled substances used in making methamphetamine on two separate occasions in December.

Police served the search warrant Jan. 11 at the couple’s home in the 900 block of Bordeaux Street and seized 78 items, including at least eight phones, three tablets, three laptops, suspected methamphetamine pipes, lockpicks, five stolen credit cards and several items with suspected drug residue.

Another search warrant was served at a storage unit used by the couple, where police seized additional suspected controlled substances. The investigation also led police to the discovery of suspected stolen property and suspected controlled substances on the Oglala National Grasslands, said a press release from the Chadron Police Department.

Mandi Hardy, who was arrested the same day the search warrants were served, has been formally charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, all felony counts in connection with suspected keta-mine, methamphetamine and Tramadol found during the searches. She is also facing felony charges of child abuse, according to court documents. The two remaining felony counts, the misdemeanor and the infraction on which she was suspected of upon her arrest do not appear on the complaint filed with the court.

She is currently in the Scotts Bluff County Jail and is expected to appear in Dawes County Court today, Feb. 6.

Her case was the second pending case that prompted Sheriff Karl Dailey to express concerns about the jail budget to the Dawes County Commissioners in January. The county jail currently is unable to house female prisoners, and a lengthy sentence against April Gilliam is expected to cost the county $35,000-50,000 in the coming years. At the time, Dailey mentioned Mandi Hardy’s pending case, fearing it could result in a similar sentence and cost to the county, though she had not yet been charged with anything more than criminal trespass at the time of the discussion.

James Hardy turned himself in Jan. 28. His complaint and the affidavit that supports it are both sealed, but he appeared in Dawes County Court Jan. 30, and a journal entry generated by that appearance indicates he is currently charged with two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance and one count of felony child abuse. He remains in the Dawes County Jail and will appear in court again Feb. 20.

The Chadron Police Department, the WING Drug Task Force and the Nebraska State Patrol have all taken part in the ongoing investigation.

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