A Billings man accused of putting methamphetamine into the coffee at a tax business was charged Monday in Justice Court with a single count of felony criminal endangerment.
Craig Charles Benedict, 34, appeared before Judge Larry Herman by video from the county jail. Benedict responded with a sharp “sir, yes, sir” to the judge’s questions about whether he understood his rights and had received a copy of the charging document.
Herman set bond at $10,000 and ordered Benedict to appear for arraignment in District Court on Feb. 21.
Benedict is accused of putting methamphetamine in coffee that was consumed by as many as 11 people, including employees and customers, at Laser 1040 on Grand Avenue.
Prosecutors say Benedict was angry that another employee had demanded that he submit to a drug test at the business owned by his mother.
Court records state that video from a surveillance camera shows Benedict entering the business at about 10 p.m. on Feb. 7. Benedict covered one camera with a piece of paper, but a second camera shows him hanging a firearm target on an employee’s office door and “flipping the bird” to the camera, court records state.
Police were called to the business at about 12:50 p.m. the next day by an employee who said Benedict had bragged to his mother about pulling a prank at the office that included “spiking” the office coffee with methamphetamine. Benedict also allegedly told his former girlfriend that he put a half-gram of the drug into the large electric coffee maker.
An employee said she drank the coffee that morning and felt “unusually jittery.” Another employee, who said she was a recovering drug addict, said she drank the coffee and “recalled the physical effects of the drug on her system from her past use ... though much less intense,” court records state.
Benedict was arrested later that day.
RiverStone Health, the county’s health agency, last week collected urine samples from five people who say they may have consumed the meth-laced coffee.
Two employees gave blood samples for testing. The samples have been sent to the state crime lab in Missoula.