First-offender probation for former UI students who had plethora of drugs

Mar. 8—URBANA — Two former University of Illinois students arrested with a smorgasbord of drugs in their apartment last fall have each been sentenced to two years of first-offender probation.

If Connor Rhodes, 21, and Caleb Mason, 22, who lived in an apartment in the 0-100 block of East Armory Avenue, Champaign, complete their probation without any problems, they will be able to escape a felony conviction on their records.

Both men entered guilty pleas Wednesday before Judge Roger Webber. As part of their probation they were ordered to perform 30 hours of public service, get substance-abuse evaluations, and forfeit more than $14,500 cash and several kinds of drugs that police seized from their apartment to authorities.

Rhodes pleaded guilty to possession of fewer than 15 grams of cocaine and Mason pleaded guilty to possession of less than 200 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, both Class 4 felonies.

In exchange for their guilty pleas, Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark-Rivest agreed to dismiss other charges against Rhodes alleging that he had about 7 ounces of cocaine in his room. In return for Mason's plea to having the psychedelic mushrooms, she dismissed another charge alleging that he had about 7 ounces of cannabis.

Neither man had any previous criminal convictions, she said. Both of them were represented by Urbana attorney Baku Patel.

A Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force report said officers conducted a court-authorized search of their apartment on Oct. 21 after having made controlled buys from them through informants and by using a mobile app on which the pair allegedly advertised.

In the apartment, police found cocaine, ketamine, Xanax anti-anxiety pills, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis, scales, a cutting agent and a total of $14,647.

UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said Mason had withdrawn from the UI in September before his arrest. Rhodes, who was a UI student when arrested, no longer attends the UI, she said.