Four plead guilty in connection with dogfighting ring
Four defendants pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia this week to federal dogfighting and conspiracy charges for their roles in an interstate dogfighting network across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.
“Dogfighting is absolutely intolerable and callously subjects defenseless animals to inhumane treatment and abuse,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We must protect and care for these animals—not cruelly turn them against each other for profit. Those who engage in this deplorable conduct will face justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to court documents filed in connection with the cases, four defendants—Odell S. Anderson Sr., 52, of the District of Columbia; Emmanuel A. Powe Sr., 46, of Frederick, Md.; Chester A. Moody Jr., 46, of Glenn Dale, Md.; and Carlos L. Harvey, 46, of King George, Va. — and their co-conspirators participated in animal-fighting ventures from April 2013 through July 11, 2018.
Those ventures involved training, transporting, and breeding dogs for dogfighting events, including at least one specific “two-card” event on April 3, 2016.
For the April 2016 event, Anderson, Powe and Harvey met up with others in the parking lot of Walmart in King George, and they followed one of the people in their vehicles to the location of a fight. Moody, Powe, and Anderson then participated in a pre-scheduled “two-card” dogfight, which is an event involving two separate dogfights with different dogs and handlers.
This event involved a strict training regimen the dogfighters put the dogs through for several weeks before the event. At least one of the dogs died due to its injuries in this April 2016 dogfight.
The defendants also maintained other fighting dogs at their residences, as well as dogfighting equipment, including dog treadmills, “med kits,” “breeding stands” used to immobilize female dogs, and chains weighing up to several pounds per linear foot.
“Organized dogfighting—whether on a professional, hobbyist or street fighter level—does not have a place in our society. Dogfighting is an extremely violent and secretive venture of animal abuse, and bringing young children to these fighting events also exposes another generation to indifference towards animal cruelty and disrespect for the law against this violent and illegal activity,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“The provisions of the Animal Welfare Act were designed to protect animals from being used in illegal fighting ventures, which often entail other forms of criminal activity,” said Special Agent in Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General. “Together with the Department of Justice, animal fighting is an investigative priority for USDA-OIG, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in animal-fighting ventures.”
Odell Anderson Sr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the animal-fighting prohibitions of the Animal Welfare Act by conspiring with others to sponsor and exhibit dogs in a dogfight, as well as to buy, sell, possess, train, transport, deliver and receive dogs for the purposes of having those dogs participate in animal-fighting ventures. Additionally, Anderson pleaded guilty to one felony count of causing a child under the age of 16 to attend an animal-fighting venture.
Previously, on May 10, Emmanuel Powe Sr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the animal-fighting prohibitions of the Animal Welfare Act. On April 28, Chester Moody Jr. and Carlos Harvey each pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy. All four defendants entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. in Richmond.
Moody will be sentenced on Aug. 27, followed by Powe and Harvey on September 1 and Anderson on October 6. Each animal-fighting conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge against Anderson of taking a minor to attend a dogfight carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The District Court will determine each defendant’s sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was prosecuted as part of Operation Grand Champion, a coordinated effort across numerous federal judicial districts to combat organized dogfighting. The phrase “Grand Champion” is used by dogfighters to refer to a dog with more than five dogfighting “victories.”