Department of Justice Announces Arrests in Pensacola-Based Dog Fighting Ring Investigation
Five individuals were arrested yesterday on a 44-count federal indictment charging violations of the dogfighting prohibitions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and conspiracy to commit those violations.
Shane Patrick Sprague, 35, of Pensacola, Florida, Derek Jedidiah Golson, aka Derek Jedidiah Murray, 38, of Pensacola, Florida, Haley Cook Murph, 24, of Milton, Florida, David Lee Moser, 36, of Waynesboro, Tennessee, and James “Tommy” Peek, 67, of Milton, Florida were indicted a the case involving C Wood Kennels in Pensacola, Florida.
The indictment alleges that defendants Sprague and Golson operated C Wood Kennels, a dogfighting operation that arranged dogfights, allowed fighting dogs to attack “bait” animals, and trafficked in fighting dogs with defendant Moser and others outside of Florida, including through an underground dogfighting website. The indictment further alleges that defendant Peek acted as a source to supply fighting dogs to C Wood Kennels.
According to the indictment, defendant Murph’s role was that of a makeshift “veterinarian” for C Wood Kennels. Although Murph at no time possessed a veterinary license, she offered to and did perform veterinary and surgical procedures on fighting dogs so the kennel could avoid the scrutiny of a licensed veterinarian. The defendant also possessed veterinary equipment used to treat injured fighting dogs, including skin staplers, sutures, intravenous bags and lines, scalpels, and injectable animal steroids.
“As this case demonstrates, we are aggressively prosecuting dogfighters and those who support their inhumane criminal enterprises – including unscrupulous veterinarians or veterinary poseurs,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We thank our federal and local law enforcement partners who made this operation possible.”
“Dogfighting is a blight on humanity, one that has no place in the Northern District of Florida or anywhere else,” said U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe of the Northern District of Florida. “We will continue to work with federal and local law enforcement agencies to root out this barbaric blood sport, in Florida and beyond.”
“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 involving drugs, firearms, and gambling,” said Special Agent in Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). “Animal fighting is an investigative priority for USDA-OIG, and together with the Department of Justice we will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in animal fighting ventures.”
The federal Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony to sponsor or exhibit an animal in an animal fighting venture and to possess, train, sell, purchase, transport, deliver or receive an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture.
This matter continues to be investigated by the USDA-OIG. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Ethan Eddy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Love are prosecuting the case.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictments are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.