Owner of Home Run makes court appearance, due back next week
URBANA — The owner of the Home Run Food Mart and an employee of his, accused of selling drug paraphernalia from their east Urbana store last month, will be back in court in a week with private attorneys.
Store owner Ramzi Alsaqri, 49, and employee Mohammed Mahmoud, 27, both of Champaign, were arraigned Friday on the single Class 4 felony charge of unlawful sale of drug paraphernalia.
Alsaqri's business attorney, Tom Gordon of Champaign, told Judge Richard Klaus that the men needed time to hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Alsaqri was still in custody at the time of his 1:30 p.m. court appearance Friday but was released about an hour later after posting the $1,000 cash necessary for his bond. Mahmoud posted bond late Thursday morning, just a few hours after his arrest, and came to court Friday with several supporters.
Klaus told both men to be back June 15 with an attorney. If convicted, they face a range of penalties ranging from probation to one to three years in prison.
Urbana police arrested them early Thursday at the convenience mart at 1509 E. Washington St. on warrants that had been issued earlier as a result of a three-week long investigation. They are accused of selling $5 "brown bags" containing a piece of glass tubing, copper mesh and a lighter — items used to smoke crack cocaine — from the store on May 10 and 11.
Police searched the store and seized several items.
The store was closed all day Thursday after the search, the result of being served with a temporary order prohibiting the sale of alcohol there. It remained closed Friday afternoon.
A hearing before Urbana Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Smyth, acting as the liquor commissioner, is scheduled for Tuesday morning to begin the process of revoking or suspending the business' liquor license.
No one answered the phone at the store Friday.