A felony absconder found to be in possession of drugs and firearms in January at a residence north of Searcy was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this month in White County Circuit Court.

Tony Joe Ward, 30, of Searcy pleaded guilty Nov. 6 in a negotiated deal in which a class Y felony charge of simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms was dropped.

After pleading guilty, Ward was sentenced to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction for possession of 10 to 200 games of a schedule II controlled substance, namely methamphetamine, with purpose to deliver, a class A felony; six years for possession of 14 grams to 4 ounces of a schedule VI controlled substance, namely marijuana, with purpose to deliver, a class D felony; six years for possession of drug paraphernalia with purpose to inhale methamphetamine, a class D felony; and six years for possession of firearms by certain persons, a class D felony. The sentences run concurrently and he was given 30 days of jail credit.

According to affidavit written by Central Arkansas Drug Task Force investigator Conlee Buselle, the White County Sheriff’s Office learned Jan. 9 that Ward, “who had an active felony absconder warrant for his arrest,” was at a residence on Smith Road.

The homeowner reportedly gave permission to deputies to enter the home after confirming that Ward was there. Ward was in a bedroom and opened the door when the deputies knocked on it before attempting to close it. He was then arrested.

Buselle wrote that in “plain view” of the deputies were “a large bag of suspected methamphetamine and another bag of suspected marijuana.” After getting written permission from the homeowner, the deputies “conducted a more detailed search of the room.” They reportedly found a “.22-caliber rifle (with ammunition available) and glass smoking pipes, along with additional bags of suspected methamphetamine.”

Two other people reportedly were in the room with Ward. Buselle wrote that one said she was “just visiting” while the other said he was “paying for some marijuana that he had purchased from Ward earlier.”

Ward reportedly admitted that “he was selling the narcotics in the room and that everything belonged to him.” The methamphetamine reportedly weighed approximately 99.4 grams and the marijuana 70.3 grams.

Ward had been convicted in 2009 in White County Circuit Court to multiple drug-related crimes when he was 18. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison that August.

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