Plea bargain leads to dismissal of some charges in Fuel Vend robbery case

MARION COUNTY — A 24-year-old Centralia man has pleaded guilty in Marion County Court to a felony charge of possessing narcotics, in exchange for a charge stemming from the alleged armed robbery of a Centralia gas station and convenience store being dismissed.

Lamar Bennett (Source: MCSO)
Lamar Bennett
(Source: MCSO)

Lamar Bennett was initially arrested on drug related charges, but information from an ongoing investigation into the November 19 armed robbery of Fuel Vend Express on North Poplar Street in Centralia also led to him being charged in Count 1 with Class X felony armed robbery with a firearm.

In addition to armed robbery, Bennett was also charged in Count 2 with Class 1 felony manufacture with the intent to distribute between 1-15 grams of heroin for what was allegedly inside a baggie he gave a Centralia police officer. He was charged in Count 3 with Class 4 felony possession of a controlled substance, in Count 3 with Class 2 felony possession of narcotics, and in Count 4 Class 1 felony aggravated armed robbery indicating a firearm.

In exchange for his guilty plea to Count 4, Counts 1 and 3 for armed robbery and possession were dismissed.

He is now scheduled for an April 26 bench trial on the remaining charges in Counts 2 and 5, felony manufacture with the intent to distribute heroin and aggravated armed robbery.

The call November 19 of the armed robbery at Fuel Vend came in when a panic alarm was pushed at the store. Employees reported a light-skinned black male entered the store, displayed a firearm and demanded money. Employees complied, giving the gunman an unspecified amount of money and the gunman fled on foot from the store, heading north in the alley behind the store.

Nearly a month later Bennett was arrested when Centralia Police Officer Michael Peebles was responding to a call about shots fired in an area behind the Family Dollar Store in Centralia, and noticed a man behind a public housing unit on Maulding Drive with his pants down.

Peebles approached the man, now identified as Bennett, and noticed as the man pulled up his pants a plastic bag was sticking out of the pocket. He reportedly asked Bennett if the bag contained drugs, and Bennett said yes and gave the bag to the officer.