Mothers upset over sentencing of Waupaca County woman for drug deaths

WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – Two mothers are upset with the sentencing of a woman convicted of killing their children in a drug overdose. The two died from drugs laced with fentanyl.

Waupaca County Circuit Judge Raymond Huber sentenced April Hardegen to six years in prison for two reckless homicide charges.

The incidents date back to last year when Jordan May and Kendra Rateau were given drugs they didn’t know were laced with fentanyl.

“There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t cry because I miss him,” Jennifer Bautista-May said of her son Jordan. “Many nights I still cried myself to sleep, and the anger and circumstances behind it is eating me alive, and I don’t know what to do with it.”

Action 2 News first shared Bautista-May’s story last year.

RELATED: Waupaca County mom wants accountability after son’s drug overdose death

Bautista-May was teary-eyed as she shared a video in court of her son being rolled out of his hospital room while on life support. He was heading for a procedure to remove his organs as an organ donor.

Jordan died in June 1 of 2021 and Bautista-May blamed April Hardegen for her son’s death.

“April preyed on people with addictions and mental illnesses by selling this poison to them,” Bautista-May said.

Six weeks before Jordan died at the age of 33, Kendra Rateau suffered the same fate at the age of 24. Her mother Sherry Meyer wanted the maximum sentence for Hardegen of 40 years for first degree reckless homicide.

“There’s been a lot of emotion throughout this entire process. Anger, rage, hate. But at the end of the day, it’s not going to bring Kendra back or Jordan,” Meyer said.

The mothers didn’t get their wishes in Hardegen receiving a maximum prison sentence, and put them at odds with Waupaca County District Attorney Veronica Isherwood and her sentencing recommendation.

“I know there’s two moms behind me that are sorely disappointed in my recommendation, and I know that’s going to happen every time I charge one of these,” Isherwood said.

According to the district attorney, Hardegen was crucial in charging several other people in drug cases.

Hardegen’s lawyer Michael Covey told Judge Huber his client made a mistake, but she wasn’t responsible for the deaths. At one point, both mothers expressed outrage when Covey compared Hardegen’s struggles to the victims.

“She isn’t all that different than the people we see on the screen in front of us today,” Covey said.

“Wow, that’s not right,” one of the mothers responded.

“You’re a piece of sh**,” Bautista-May said. “Excuse my language. That’s the wrong comparison.”

Before her sentencing, Hardegen apologized to the victims, their families, and her own family.

Judge Huber also sentenced Hardegen for other felonies, but they will run concurrently with her six year sentence. She’ll also have four years of extended supervision upon her release.

Jennifer Bautista-May called Hardegen’s sentence a joke.

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