Cedar Rapids man convicted in federal court for synthetic drug distribution charge

Faces up to 20 years in prison

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man, who a judge said had the “worst criminal history” he had ever seen, pleaded guilty to his 57th criminal conviction on Tuesday in federal court for a synthetic drug distribution charge.

Benjamin McCauley, 45, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances — synthetic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as synthetic marijuana on March 12, 2015, the indictment shows. McCauley during the Tuesday’s hearing admitted he was in possession of three synthetic drugs and they he knew they were illegal controlled substances.

He also admitted that he intended to sell the drugs.

U.S. Chief Magistrate C.J. Williams said McCauley faces up to 20 years in federal prison and three years to life on supervised release following any prison time.

In federal court, a judge can consider McCauley’s extensive previous criminal history, which may increase his prison time, depending on the advisory sentencing guidelines.

McCauley was serving a 12-year state prison sentence for Linn County District Court convictions of burglary, probation revocations for stalking and another burglary and eluding.

Court records show McCauley committed the burglaries in 2015 and 2016 and also stalked an ex-girlfriend in 2015. McCauley stalked the woman from Nov. 11, 2014, through July 16, 2015, and threatened her with verbal and written threats, according to a criminal complaint.

Williams, in an October detention hearing, called McCauley’s criminal history “remarkable” with 56 convictions since age 15, and at least nine convictions involving violence, three for eluding, two for escape and about 13 failures to appear. Williams denied McCauley’s request to be moved back to state prison pending this federal charge.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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