Rock Falls man facing federal meth-dealing charge, with state meth, burglary cases pending

Thomas E. Dugger Sr. in 2023

ROCKFORD – A 53-year-old Rock Falls felon facing burglary, theft and meth-dealing charges in Whiteside County also is charged in federal court with selling meth.

Thomas E. Dugger Sr., who turns 54 on Dec. 10, was indicted in Illinois Northern District Court on March 21 on one count of selling, distributing or dispensing narcotics – more than 50 grams of meth – on or about July 16, 2022.

He faces at least 10 years to life if convicted, or 15 years to life depending on his previous felony convictions, which include violent crimes and crimes involving drugs. His next status hearing is Jan. 8.

Dugger was charged July 24, 2018, with felony driving on a suspended license. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison Nov. 24, 2021.

In between those dates, however, he was charged in three more felony cases that still are working their way through the state court. The cases have been complicated not only by his imprisonment but also by the federal case.

According to Whiteside County court records, Dugger was charged July 22, 2020, with dealing less than 5 grams of meth, a charge punishable by three to seven years in state prison.

He failed to appear at his status hearing March 22 because he was at the Vandalia Correctional Center on the suspended license conviction.

On Sept. 18, 2020, he was charged in two cases, one with burglary, theft with intent to steal $10,000 to $100,000 and misdemeanor trespass, and the other with residential burglary, theft with intent to steal $500 to $10,000 and misdemeanor trespass.

Sterling police said Dugger and Dakota L.G. Bottoms, 29, of Sterling, broke into a Sterling home Sept. 12 and into what was then Sterling Furniture, 3606 E. Lincolnway, on Sept. 1, 2020.

Dugger faces four to 15 years for residential burglary and three to seven years for burglary and theft.

Again, he failed to appear at a pretrial hearing because he was in prison. A warrant was issued for his arrest, so if he’s released, he would be sent back to Whiteside County to proceed with those charges.

Dugger was released from Vandalia on Aug. 29 but was not brought back to Whiteside; he instead was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in his more serious federal case.

He is being held at the Winnebago County jail in Rockford.

Other Whiteside County convictions that could affect the length of a federal sentence include:

  • Dugger was sentenced April 29, 2015, to a year in prison for driving on a suspended license.
  • On May 30, 2007, he got nine years for dealing 15 to 100 grams of cocaine, and on March 30, 1994, he was sentenced to three years for dealing 30 to 50 grams of marijuana.
  • On April 27, 1992, he was sentenced to three years for aggravated battery of a police officer.

Bottoms’ two cases also have not yet been resolved. He faces the same felony counts as Dugger but only one trespassing charge.

He has a pretrial hearing set for Dec. 14.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.