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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pair Indicted On Drug, Gun, Dog Fighting Charges

Jonathan Williams, Jermaine Thaxton Charged In Six-Count Indictment

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA -- A Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke has indicted a pair of Halifax County, Va. men on charges ranging from drug distribution to dog fighting.

On Thursday, April 14, 2011, the grand jury charged Jonathan Kennard Williams, 26, of Nathalie, Va. with three counts of distributing crack cocaine, one count of being a felon illegally in possession of a firearm, one count of illegally transferring a firearm and one count of conspiring to sell or transport a dog or animal to be used in an animal fighting venture. The grand jury also charged Jermaine Thaxton, 23, also of Nathalie, Va. with one count of conspiring to sell or transfer a dog or animal to be used in an animal fighting venture.

The indictment, which was returned last Thursday under seal, was unsealed today following the defendants’ arrests and initial court appearances. Both defendants are being held in the custody of the United States Marshals pending detention hearings.

According to the indictment, on August 18, 2010, Williams and Thaxton sold a pit bull fighting dog to a confidential informant for $400. Williams discussed the price with Thaxton before agreeing to the sale price. Thaxton presented the dog to another animal to provoke a fight before walking the dog to the informant’s car and placing the dog in the trunk.

Approximately one month later, Williams allegedly met with an undercover ATF agent and discussed the dog fighting business and the purchase of fighting dogs. The defendant told the officer that he goes to North Carolina to conduct all of his dog fighting.

The drug and gun charges relate to Williams’ alleged distribution of crack cocaine and possession of a Tec9, 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and a .38 caliber revolver.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, and the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Halifax County Animal Control Department are assisting in the rescue, recovery and care of animals found at the defendant’s home. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph W. H. Mott will prosecute the case for the United States.

A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated April 15, 2015