ROCKFORD — Two Chicago area men were arrested today after being indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Rockford and charged with conspiring to manufacture, possess and distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants. Arrested were: GEORGE H. BACUS, 51, of Niles, Ill., and JEREMIAH N. CLEMENT, 37, of Des Plaines, Ill. Also charged in the indictment were YOUSIF Y. PIRA, 62, of Chicago, Ill., and JUSTIN T. PAGLUSCH, 33, of Ingleside, Ill. The indictment alleges that between Jan. 2, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2015, the defendants conspired to illegally grow and store marijuana in a warehouse located at 1916 11th Street in Rockford. According to the indictment, Bacus initially contracted to purchase the warehouse on Jan. 2, 2013. The indictment alleges that Clement later entered into a lease with an option to purchase the warehouse. The warehouse was destroyed by a fire on Jan. 6, 2015.
Bacus is scheduled to appear before U. S. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnson for an initial appearance today at 3:00 p.m. in federal court in Rockford. Clement is scheduled to appear in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut at 1:30 p.m today. Arrest warrants for Pira and Paglusch were issued on April 21, 2015, and both are still at large.
The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Carl J. Vasilko, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; and Derek Bergsten, Chief of the Rockford Fire Department. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit and Rockford Police Department Narcotics Unit assisted in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Pedersen.