Bail has been set at $250,000 for Centralia businessman Kelly Alexander, who was arrested Tuesday after Marion County Sheriff’s deputies raided his business Biggies Cafe and General Store, seizing hundreds of packages of synthetic cannabis and thousands of dollars.
The 43-year-old Alexander, of Walnut Hill, was charged Wednesday morning in Marion County Court with two Class X felonies for manufacture and delivery of more than 200 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 analog drug, a Class 3 felony charge for distribution of a non-narcotic drug; and a Class 2 felony charge for distribution of a synthetic misbranded drug.
He posted $25,000 cash bond and was released from the Marion County Jail after hiring Centralia attorney Brian Wernsman to represent him. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for June 19, in front of Judge Mark Stedelin.
Alexander was arrested Tuesday after arriving at his store on Highway 161 near Interstate 57, where deputies were executing a search warrant. The search warrant had been issued after a confidential purchase of synthetic cannabis had reportedly been made at his store.
According to Marion County Sheriff Jerry DeVore, deputies were on the scene for hours Tuesday and seized nearly 500 packages of synthetic cannabis, sale and purchase records and more than $19,000 cash.
Tuesday’s raid wasn’t the first for Biggies stores. Last year law enforcement raided both the store near Interstate 57 and Biggies Smoke Shop on the west side of Centralia, again seizing cash, records and packages of synthetic cannabis.
However, charges in the first raids were not pursued, as the chemicals found in the seized products were not included in a list of banned chemicals.
DeVore says the chemical makeup of the products seized Tuesday should not affect the misbranded drug charge filed against Alexander on Wednesday. The statute is part of a new Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, and the Alexander case, he says, could be the first of its kind filed in Illinois.
He praised the work of his detectives Anthony Decker and Ryan Castleman for what he called a “superb” investigation that led to the search and subsequent arrest.