Belleville man sentenced to four years in prison for fentanyl distribution

A Belleville man has been sentenced to prison time for distributing drugs that included fentanyl.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Zina Cruse sentenced Jerome M. Ward to four years in prison. He had been charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance containing fentanyl.

Ward was in police custody Thursday and will remain there until he’s turned over to the Illinois Department of Corrections, according to a news release from the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office.

“Our efforts in this case are illustrative of our intention to combat the opioid epidemic, including the deadly opioid fentanyl on the ground level,” State’s Attorney James A. Gomric said in the release. “We appreciate the efforts of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation of this case, and the removal of any amount of this deadly drug from our community.”

Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.