Up to 11 affected by suspected meth-laced coffee

2012-02-09T17:30:00Z 2013-08-27T16:13:06Z Up to 11 affected by suspected meth-laced coffeeBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette
February 09, 2012 5:30 pm  • 

A man arrested Wednesday on accusations that he spiked the coffee of a local tax business owned by his family with methamphetamine used to work at the business and may have done it in a dispute over taking a drug test, according to a Billings Police Department report.

Craig Charles Benedict, 34, was booked into the Yellowstone County Detention Facility on Wednesday on suspicion of felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor partner or family member assault.

Lt. Kevin Iffland said that at least seven employees at Laser 1040, 121 Grand Ave., and four customers may have consumed coffee that was possibly laced with meth.

Barbara Schneeman, director of communications for the county’s health agency, RiverStone Health, said the agency has collected and turned over to police five samples from people concerned that they drank the coffee.

A BPD narrative of the investigation said Benedict’s mother owns the business and told officers that he worked there on and off for years.

Family told officers that Craig Benedict has a history of drug and alcohol use. Another employee at the business asked him to submit to a drug test Tuesday, saying he had to if he wanted to continue working there.

“He got mad and stormed out of the office,” after making threats around the office, according to the police report.

The next day, an employee at Laser 1040 noticed that she was feeling odd after drinking the coffee. Another employee, who also is Benedict’s roommate, said Benedict told him “something about everybody at the office failing” their urinalysis tests and “was going to make this happen,” the report states.

Later on Wednesday, Benedict told an employee at Laser 1040 that he put meth in the coffee, according to the report.

Officers arrested him Wednesday.

A report from a second officer said employees at the business suspected Craig Benedict was high when he came to work Tuesday. The next morning, an employee found a mess outside of the business, including notes that appeared to be in Benedict’s handwriting, the statement said.

One woman in the office told investigators that she is a recovering meth addict who has been clean for about a year and that the physical effects felt similar after drinking coffee at the office Wednesday.

Another woman told officers that Benedict said he put about 0.5 grams of meth in the coffee.

Iffland said the investigation is ongoing. Samples have been sent to the state crime lab in Missoula, and processing may take 90 days.

A Justice Court appearance date has not yet been set for Benedict, who remains in the county jail.



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