Illinois man pleads not guilty to cocaine, assault charges


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – An Illinois man has entered not guilty pleas to criminal charges alleging that he tried to hide cocaine at an Iron Mountain hotel.

Willie Earl Lewis, 25, of Champaign, Ill. faces one felony count of delivery or manufacture of cocaine-less than 50 grams and one misdemeanor count of assault and battery.

After accepting Lewis’ not guilty pleas during a hearing in Dickinson County Circuit Court, Judge Richard Celello scheduled a pre-trial conference in the matter for June 2.

If convicted, Lewis could spend up to 20 years in prison.

The charges stem from a March 26 incident in Iron Mountain.

According to the criminal complaint in the case, Lewis was observed to be either putting something in or taking something out of the ceiling tiles in the hallway outside of his hotel room.

The complaint did not identify the hotel.

Later on, the hotel manager found three small plastic bags containing suspected drugs in the ceiling tiles. Two of the three bags contained smaller bags of suspected drugs.

Lewis allegedly attacked the manager by knocking him from a ladder that he was standing on. The complaint further states that Lewis grabbed one of the bags and attempted to run away before being stopped and arrested.

A field test on the substance in the bags was positive for cocaine, according to the complaint.

Authorities subsequently conducted a search warrant on Lewis’ hotel room and found more bags. They also claimed to have found $1,800 in cash on Lewis after his arrest.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is