ROCKFORD —(ENEWSPF)–June 2, 2016. A Des Plaines man was sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala for his role in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.
JEREMIAH N. CLEMENT, 38, of Des Plaines, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. On Oct. 6, 2015, a federal grand jury in Rockford charged Clement and six other individuals, five men and a woman, 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 a warehouse located at 1916 11th Street in Rockford. The warehouse was destroyed by a fire on Jan. 6, 2015.
Clement pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 18, 2015, admitting that he conspired to manufacture and distribute marijuana with co-defendants GEORGE H. BACUS, 52, of Niles, Ill.; YOUSIF Y. PIRA, 63, of Chicago, Ill.; JUSTIN T. PAGLUSCH, 34, of Ingleside, Ill.; SHLIMON SHIMON, 47, of Chicago, Ill.; CASEY WILLIAMS, 29, of Great Falls, Mont.; and DESTINY FREEMAN, 22, of Palmer, Alaska. According to the written plea agreement, on Jan. 2, 2013, Bacus purchased the warehouse at 1916 11th Street in Rockford, Ill. on installment contract, using money provided by Shimon or an associate of Shimon. Shimon, Bacus and Pira used the warehouse to illegally grow and harvest marijuana plants, then process the marijuana sale to others. Between March and June of 2014, Shimon recruited Clement to join the conspiracy and participate in processing the initial crop.
Clement admitted in the plea agreement that in late July or early August of 2014, a new marijuana crop was planted. On Sept. 12, 2014, at Shimon’s direction, Clement entered into a contract to purchase the warehouse, and the contract that Bacus had entered into was terminated. Shimon provided the money to pay for the warehouse and the use of the warehouse was under Shimon’s control. The plea agreement also states that Shimon retained Bacus to monitor Clement’s activities at the warehouse and report to Shimon.
In addition, the plea agreement states that in August of 2014, Clement recruited Williams to join the conspirators, who in turn recruited Freeman. Clement paid for Williams and Freeman to travel from Montana to Rockford, using money provided by Shimon. With Shimon’s permission, Clement allowed Williams and Freeman to live in the warehouse while they assisted in the marijuana growing operation, using money from Shimon to pay for food while they lived in the warehouse. In December of 2014, Clement recruited Paglusch to join the conspiracy.
As further stated in the plea agreement, Shimon provided the plants, equipment and nutrients for growing the new marijuana crop. Williams and Freeman watered and cared for the marijuana crop as it was growing, and Clement supervised them. Shimon came to the warehouse for a few hours a day when he was in the area. Clement, Shimon, Bacus, Williams, Freeman and Paglusch all participated in the processing of the new marijuana crop, which was stored in a vault at the warehouse, with the combination to the lock known by Shimon, but not Clement. The initial marijuana crop and the new marijuana crop totaled more than 1,000 marijuana plants. In addition, as stated in the plea agreement, during the period of the conspiracy, Shimon kept a revolver at the warehouse for protection, which Clement possessed from time to time. At sentencing, Judge Kapala found as an aggravating factor that Clement intentionally set the fire that destroyed the warehouse located at 1916 11th Street on Jan. 6, 2015.
Freeman pleaded guilty on June 1, 2016, and remains free on her own recognizance pending sentencing set for Sept. 15, 2016, at 2:30 p.m. Freeman faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment of at least 2 years, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Bacus and Pira were arrested in April 2015 and released pending trial. Williams was arrested in October 2015 and is in federal custody pending trial. Paglusch was arrested this morning in Wichita Falls, Tex., and an initial appearance is pending. An arrest warrant was issued for Shimon, who is still at large.
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. Each defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The sentencing today was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffery A. Magee, 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, Ill. Police 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.
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