Lengthy Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Dogfighters

Lengthy Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Dogfighters

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Cleveland, Ohio, dogfighter Angelo McCoy was first arrested for dogfighting during a November 2014 raid in Akron. "A concession stand outside sold hot dogs and refreshments," cleveland.com reported. "After police raided the home Saturday using an armored truck, they found about $30,000 scattered through the yard and eight pit bulls — six ready to fight and two bloodied dogs inside the ring." This raid involved nearly "100 Akron police officers, two SWAT teams and Summit County Sheriff's deputies" and resulted in the arrest of 47 people from around Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California

McCoy, who ran from officers that night, was sentenced to a year of probation rather than prison.

While McCoy was on probation, he was busted for dogfighting again -- in June 2015. "He was sentenced to 10 months in prison," cleveland.com reported.

Both judges told McCoy that he wasn't allowed to have more dogs, but when McCoy was busted with "112 grams of heroin, 21 grams of cocaine, more than 400 prescription pills [and] $8,591 cash" during a January 2020 drug investigation, police found 11 injured dogs and one dead dog behind his house. McCoy was arrested for dogfighting a third time and allowed out on $25,000 bond. 

In November 2020, while McCoy remained out on bond for his third arrest, I caught someone using Craigslist to collect bait animals for him. Later, I caught them using Craigslist to communicate with each other. Just before Thanksgiving, I realized he had a woman named Celina breeding kittens for him. 

With the exception of the cat who was killed in Akron in the upper right corner of this tweet, these are just SOME of the cats and kittens McCoy has given to his pitbulls to tear apart since he was allowed out on bond in February 2020

Who knows how many dogs he's killed. All of these deaths could've been prevented by giving McCoy the prison sentence he deserved the first time.

McCoy's case highlights two problems with dogfighters. First, as you can tell from him and the following repeat offenders, dogfighters don't stop fighting dogs unless they're in prison.

Second, dogfighters continue to commit crimes while out on bond. 

  • Buffalo, New York, dogfighter Douglas Williams was busted for dogfighting in October 2020. Despite having prior animal cruelty convictions and despite the fact he was on parole for "violent" home invasion, Williams was able to post bail -- and flee. U.S. Marshals found him in Georgia a year later.

  • Cleveland dogfighter Angelo McCoy has skipped court dates since his January 2020 arrest and he's obviously continued to fight dogs and kill cats and kittens; 

  • Georgia dogfighter Benjamin “Benji” Shinhoster III was busted for dogfighting in 2018. While out on bond, Shinhoster was "caught trying to sell several dogs," news station WRDW reported. “'The gall of this defendant to continue as a proprietor of death while on bond is unnerving,'” said Jason Williams, special agent in charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General."

Cases like the foregoing are why a Georgia judge denied bond to 15 dogfighters who were arrested in April 2022 and why Georgia dogfighters tend to get more than a slap on the wrist. Dogfighters Chistopher Raines and Jarvis Lockett were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison, respectively, in February 2022, for example, and Demetris Deshan Kennedy was sentenced to 20 years in July 2020. 

But even in Georgia there's a great disparity in sentences. One could easily argue that Vernon Vegas, who, according to the Department of Justice, "bred, trained, sold and transported dogs for the purpose of dog fighting" and attended dogfights with Christopher Raines and other dogfighters from 1996 to 2020, got a slap on the wrist despite being sentenced to the maximum five years he could receive. 

Feds seized 150 pitbulls in the Vegas/Raines case. This year alone as of July, investigators have seized:

How many cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs, small dogs and other animals obtained from Craigslist, Facebook, Next Door and other social media apps died terrifying, painful deaths to train those 299 pitbulls and entertain depraved heathens

The Humane Society of the United States has estimated since the 2007 Michael Vick case that we have over 40,000 dogfighters and people breeding pitbulls for them and another 100,000 "street fighters" across the country. That estimate already amounted to an average of 2,800 dogfighters per state, give or take since there are more dogfighters in Georgia and Florida than, say, North Dakota and Alaska. But those numbers have skyrocketed thanks to inept and possibly corrupt animal control officers, animal advocacy organizations that are advocating for dogfighters and police officers who don't know what they're up against. Cops have no incentive to spend months or even years investigating a dogfighting case when judges are mysteriously recusing themselves over a year into a case and dogfighters like Nasir Azmat are given a 60-day sentence.

I caught Cleveland dogfighter Angelo McCoy killing the cats and kittens people were posting on Craigslist in 2020, when people were posting elderly COVID victims' pets on the site. Imagine these cats going from a loving home to losing their owner and not knowing why to being driven away from their home, having their hind legs tied together and being handed to pitbulls to tear apart for practice. 

Now that people are posting even more pets on Craigslist, Facebook, Next Door and other apps because they were laid off during COVID, are now being evicted and are moving to cheap apartments that don't allow pets, there has never been a better time to discourage dogfighters from killing those pets by ensuring they get a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence when they're caught. 

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