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ROCKFORD — A Lake County man pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala for his role in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.
JUSTIN T. PAGLUSCH, 35, of Ingleside, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants and to distribute marijuana between November 2014 and Jan. 6, 2015, at a warehouse at 1916 11th St. in Rockford.
Sentencing is set for June 23, 2017, at 2:30 p.m.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Celinez Nunez, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; Derek Bergsten, Chief of the Rockford Fire Department; and Anthony Scarpelli, Chief of the Skokie Police Department. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit and the Rockford Police Department Narcotics Unit assisted in the investigation.
On Oct. 6, 2015, in a superseding indictment, a federal grand jury in Rockford charged Paglusch and six other individuals with conspiring to manufacture, possess and distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants. The indictment alleges that between Jan. 2, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2015, the defendants conspired to illegally grow and store marijuana in the warehouse, which was destroyed by fire on Jan. 6, 2015.
According to Paglusch's written plea agreement, in November 2014 Paglusch’s cousin, JEREMIAH N. CLEMENT, 39, formerly of Des Plaines, asked Paglusch to work with others in a marijuana growing operation at the warehouse. When Paglusch arrived at the warehouse in November 2014, over 1,000 marijuana plants growing on the fourth floor were almost ready to be harvested. There was also a smaller room on the fourth floor that housed the baby or "clone" marijuana plants. As stated in the plea agreement, Paglusch and Clement, along with three other co-defendants, started harvesting the crop of finished marijuana plants in December 2014. The harvested marijuana was weighed and packaged into one pound amounts and vacuum sealed. The processed marijuana was stored in a vault at the warehouse and had a combination lock. Paglusch admitted that during the period of the conspiracy, he was aware that Clement kept a .357 Ruger revolver at the warehouse for protection.
On Jan. 6, 2015, while at a hotel in Rockford, Paglusch learned that the warehouse had burned down in the early morning hours.
Clement previously pleaded guilty to the same charge as Paglusch. Clement was sentenced last year to ten years in prison.
Paglusch faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a maximum fine of $4 million, and a term of supervised release following imprisonment of at least five years and up to life. The sentence will be determined by the United States District Court, guided by the Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Pedersen.