A Pekin man who sold apparently poisonous synthetic marijuana that killed a man last year will serve a nine-year prison term.
Lonnie Smith, 47, became the second city resident to be imprisoned in cases involving outbreaks of illness and death linked to tainted faux pot. The case against a third returns to court next week.
Smith was sentenced June 20 when he pleaded guilty to the drug-induced homicide of Anthony Phillips and aggravated battery of Phillips’ girlfriend. She, like Phillips, suffered internal bleeding after ingesting the drug but survived.
Smith also was sentenced to nine years for possessing about 15 pounds of the drug, also known as Spice and K-2. The sentences will run concurrently.
He acknowledged selling a packet of the drug to Phillips on April 7, 2018, two days before Phillips died of bleeding in the brain at a Peoria hospital.
About two weeks earlier, Pekin and Peoria police held a news conference to reveal that multiple area residents had been treated at area hospitals for internal bleeding after using synthetic pot laced with brodifacoum, an ingredient in rat poison that’s now illegal in Illinois.
More than 70 area people were sickened and two – Phillips and a Peoria man – died after the tainted synthetic pot appeared in central Illinois in March 2018. At least 40 more cases, including one death, were reported over the same period in the Chicago area, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Before Phillips died he told police he had bought the drug from Smith. After his arrest Smith led police to a dumpster behind a Peoria gas station where he had dumped more than 7,000 grams of K-2, court records stated.
The drug is produced by spraying chemicals including FUB-AMB, a synthetic cannabinoid, onto dried leafy material. Both that chemical and the finished product are illegal in Illinois.
The outbreak of illness that included Smith’s victims was not the first time poisoned K-2 appeared in the Pekin area. Numerous people were sickened by a strain of it in 2017.
Rachel Spires, 31, of Pekin, was sentenced to 8 ½ years in prison on May 29 for illegal drug delivery and aggravated battery. A woman told police Spires had sold her K-2 shortly before she was hospitalized with internal bleeding.
Spires’ boyfriend, Richard Booth, 27, is due in court on July 8 on charges related to her case.