A Longview man convicted of running a drug house and possessing meth will serve five years in jail, but a judge lamented not being able to punish him further for “disgusting” behavior involved in the drug-related death of a teenage girl in January.
“Your conduct is appalling. It’s outrageous. A child died in a dwelling you maintained,” Cowlitz Superior Court Judge Anne Cruser told Chad Gaynor at his sentencing Monday.
Police say that Gaynor had been running a hideout for juveniles, taking in girls who were runaways or faced arrest and “secreting” them away from police. He provided girls methamphetamine for free, a police witness said, because he thought he would get in less trouble than if he sold the drugs.
Longview police corporal Tim Watson said Monday police believe Gaynor had been taking in girls in this way since 2016. At least a dozen and possibly a couple dozen youths, almost exclusively girls, came and went in that time, he said.
Police began investigating Gaynor, 59, on Jan. 7 after they found 16-year-old Jordan Mooney unconscious in his bed in a residence on 19th Avenue, overdosed on meth. She died later that day. A toxicology report found Jordan had four times the lethal dose of meth in her bloodstream.
Gaynor denied supplying her with the drugs. Without proof that Gaynor supplied Jordan with the drugs that killed her, authorities could not pursue charges of controlled substance homicide, Watson said.
Prosecutors ultimately charged him with maintaining a drug house and possessing meth with intent to deliver after they found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his mother’s garage. He pleaded guilty to running the drug house on Wednesday, was found guilty of possessing meth on Thursday, and was sentenced Monday.
Kevin Blondin, Gaynor’s defense attorney, denied that Gaynor delivered the drugs to Jordan. The defense’s position, he said, was that Jordan brought the drugs herself.
Gaynor, Watson wrote in his report, told officers Jordan asked him for a ride, so he drove her to his house. She had a gram of methamphetamine, he said, and shared some with him. After they both ate their meth, he said, they went to bed, but Jordan soon began to convulse and lose consciousness.
In a short statement to the court Monday, Gaynor apologized to Jordan’s family.
“I tried everything I could to save her, and I couldn’t,” he said in court.
Jordan’s mother, Aliza Mooney, said her goal now is to help youth like Jordan get the mental health and addiction help she wishes her daughter had received.
“It was always one of our goals, once she was in a stable place, to turn around and do her story one day, to help fill those gaps forever,” Mooney said. “When she passed away that didn’t stop for me. If anything, it made it more urgent and important for me. I don’t want anyone else’s kid to suffer the same fate.”
Investigators contacted Gaynor again in August, when they learned he had been using a garage at 111 Inglewood Park to use and deliver meth. Detectives found about nine grams of meth, two glass pipes with meth residue, a digital scale and several small baggies of the kind typically used in selling street-level amounts of drugs, according to police reports.
Watson said Monday he was “pleased” with Gaynor’s sentence. Ultimately, though, it was far less than the 10-year maximum sentence Gaynor could have faced from a controlled substance homicide conviction.
The burden of proof for that charge required proving Gaynor delivered drugs to Jordan and that those same drugs killed her.
“At Longview PD, we seek to have justice for those who cannot speak for themselves,” Watson said. “In this case, that’s Jordan Mooney. So we kept investigating to exhaust all possible leads and hold all accountable that we could.”
Jordan was “super smart” and had a wicked sense of humor, her mother said.
“She was ... kind of corny at times, but she had a cutting humor as well.”
And despite struggling with addiction, she was a wonderful sister to her brother and “a really good kid.”
Mooney said she has spoken at town halls, and along with a team, started a youth recovery support group called The Beacon that will focus on providing life skills, community involvement, art therapy, and support for those trying to overcome addiction.
During sentencing, Cruser lamented that penalties for those running drug houses are the same whether children or adults are involved. Hearing that gave Mooney another challenge.
“Obviously, now I’ve got it on my list (to) work on getting there to be legislation,” Mooney said. “A drug house with minors (ought) to be a little bit of a stronger sentence than a drug house with adults.”
This story has been updated to clarify that starting The Beacon was a team effort and was not done by Aliza Mooney herself.