A Rock Island man arrested in April on drug charges during a federal seizure of 64 pit bulls in connection with an alleged dog-fighting ring in the Quad-Cities pleaded guilty Friday.
Ryan M. Hickman, 42, was sentenced to four years in prison on one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison, during a hearing at the Rock Island County Justice Center.
In exchange for his plea, Rock Island County Assistant State’s Attorney Justin Umlah dismissed an additional charge of possession of controlled substance.
He will serve two years of mandatory supervised release once he completes his prison sentence.
Hickman was arrested April 14 during a search of 12 homes — 11 in Rock Island and one in Davenport — as part of an investigation that began a year ago through information developed by the Rock Island Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Quad-Cities Federal Gang Task Force. Investigators, with the help of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, removed 64 pit bulls from the homes.
Police say Hickman was in possession of less than a gram of cocaine and less than a gram of hydrocodone at the time of the dog seizure.
Although no criminal charges related to dog fighting have been filed in either state or federal court, Hickman and 16 others were named as possible participants in an illegal dog-fighting ring in a 15-page civil forfeiture complaint filed April 15 in U.S. District Court, Rock Island.
Hickman has multiple felony convictions in Rock Island County.
In 2013, he was sentenced to four years in prison for unlawful possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
In 2010, he was sentenced to 24 months of probation for promoting dog fighting. In 1994, he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of cannabis and was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of one year and 30 months, respectively.
In 1993, he was sentenced to 30 months of probation for possession of a controlled substance. His probation was terminated as “unsuccessful,” according to online court records.