For Immediate Release
St. Augustine Man Who Led a Police Helicopter on High-Speed Chase Sentenced to Ten Years in Federal Prison for Drug and Firearms Offenses
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Andrew Tyler Harp, 31, of St. Augustine, to 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture for a Taurus pistol and assorted ammunition. Harp had pleaded guilty on May 27, 2022.
According to court documents, on Nov. 24, 2021, a deputy witnessed Harp commit a traffic offense in St. Johns County. The deputy signaled Harp to pull over. In response, Harp initially appeared to be looking for a place to stop, but then accelerated and started racing down the streets of a residential neighborhood, causing the deputy to lose sight of him. A police helicopter then began tracking the speeding car.
The helicopter pilot saw an object being throw from the car. Noting the location of the object, the pilot directed another deputy to that specific location. Following the directions of the pilot, that deputy located a black backpack on the side of the road. Inside the backpack the deputy found a plastic bag containing approximately 988.3 grams of crystal methamphetamine, a digital scale, a pouch containing approximately 28.2 grams of THC wax, baggies of various sizes, nine rounds of .380 ammunition and a paycheck and pay statement made out to Harp. A fingerprint examiner later determined that Harp’s fingerprints were on the methamphetamine’s packaging.
In the meantime, Harp continued to drive but he eventually reached a dead end, abandoned the car and attempted to hide in a nearby wooded area. With the assistance of a police canine and the helicopter, deputies located Harp and arrested him.
When deputies searched the abandoned vehicle, they located approximately 74.5 grams of marijuana and a loaded Taurus .380 pistol. Having previously been convicted of various felony offenses, Harp was prohibited by law from possessing firearms or ammunition.
This case was investigated by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Coolican.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.