High-Stakes Dog Fighters and Gamblers Arrested
367 Fighting Pit Bull Terriers Seized
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 26, 2013|
MONTGOMERY, AL—On Friday, August 23, 2013, the following people were arrested after being indicted for violations of the federal dog fighting statute and the federal gambling statute:
- Donnie Anderson—48 years old, of Auburn, Alabama
- Demontt Allen—37 years old, of Houston, Texas
- William Antone Edwards—42 years old, of Brantley, Alabama
- William Oneil Edwards—39 years old, of Elba, Alabama
- Robin Stinson—40 years old, of Elba, Alabama
- Michael Martin—54 years old, of Auburn, Alabama
- Lawrence Watford—35 years old, of Adel, Georgia
- Ricky Van Le—24 years old, of Biloxi, Mississippi
- David Sellers—52 years old, of Opelika, Alabama
- Sandy Brown—47 years old, Brownsville, Alabama
The 30-count federal indictment charges that between 2009 and 2013 the above individuals conspired to promote and sponsor dog fights and conspired to possess, buy, sell, transport, and deliver dogs that were involved in dog fighting. The indictment further charges individual defendants with promoting or sponsoring a dog fight and with possessing, buying, selling, transporting, and delivering a dog for fighting purposes. Lastly, these defendants were charged with conducting an illegal gambling business.
On Friday, August 23, 2013, agents executed 13 search warrants, 11 in Alabama and two in Georgia. Agents seized 367 pit bull terriers that appeared as if they had been fought multiple times, guns, illegal narcotics, drugs used to treat and train dogs, and other evidence indicative of dog fighting. During the course of this investigation, agents also seized over $500,000 from dog fighters involved in this organization.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Auburn Police Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation requested the assistance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States to help investigate the dog fighting and take custody of the dogs seized.
“These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dog fight,” stated U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. “The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved in this in case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is. These dog fighters abuse, starve, and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dog fight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”
“The sheer number of dogs seized speaks volumes as to the inhumane and violent abuse of animals associated with the illegal practices of drug activity afflicting our communities,” stated Stephen Richardson, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mobile Division.
“This is a great example of federal, state, and local agencies working together to make communities safer,” stated Paul Register, Auburn Police Division Chief. “It is not just about the egregious act of dog fighting itself, but the other criminal activity that is affiliated with it. It is important that local law enforcement, such as the Auburn Police Division, work together with other agencies to address crimes that affect the entire country.”
“We are committing to eradicating dog fighting in every dark corner where it festers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS. “This series of raids reminds every dog fighter that they are not beyond the law and their day of reckoning will come.”
“Today, we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “Never again will these dogs be forced to fight, live in squalor, or be neglected and deprived of the bare necessities. The ASPCA is extremely grateful to federal and local authorities who pursued this widespread investigation for so long, and we are happy to lend our assistance.”
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years for conspiracy to fight dogs, a five-year maximum sentence on each of the 15 dog fighting counts, a five-year maximum for conducting a gambling business, and five-year maximum on the 13 counts of using the telephone to promote gambling. The defendants are also subject to fines and a period of supervised release if convicted.
The case was investigated by the Auburn Police Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board; the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office; Alabama State Troopers; the Lee County District Attorney’s Office; the Alabama Department of Public Safety; Bainbridge, Georgia Department of Public Safety; Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Echols County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Marshals Service; the Lee County Sheriff’s Office; the Houston County Sheriff’s Office; the Opelika Police Department; the Georgia Highway Patrol; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation; the Pensacola, Florida and Columbus, Georgia offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Taylor Crossing Animal Hospital. Assistant United States Attorney Clark Morris is prosecuting the case.