Reward offered for suburban man wanted in Rockford marijuana operation

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Federal authorities are offering a reward to find a suburban man wanted in connection with a marijuana growing operation in a Rockford warehouse that was destroyed in a fire.

Justin T. Paglusch, 34, is one of four people charged in federal court with growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants in the warehouse at 1916 11th Street, authorities said.

A massive Jan. 6 blaze destroyed the site known as the Asher Tool building, according to published reports. The fire smoldered for days, and the building collapsed into a nearby structure that also caught fire.

Co-defendant George H. Bacus, of Niles, had contracted to purchase the warehouse, but later entered into a lease with an option to buy the building, federal authorities said.

Bacus, and co-defendants Jeremiah Clement, of Des Plaines, and Yousif Y. Pira, of Chicago, have all appeared in court on the federal charges, according to a statement Thursday issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Paglusch, of Ingleside, has not yet been arrested and is considered an ATF fugitive, the statement said. Authorities are offering a $5,000 for information leading to his arrest.

He is described as a 6-foot-1, 180-pound white male who is bald and has hazel eyes, according to the ATF statement.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the ATF Tip Line at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or 1-888-283-8477.

Bacus, Clement and Pira have all pleaded not guilty in the case, according to federal court records.

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