Indiana Animal Control Officer Pleads Guilty to Interstate Diversion of Veterinary Drugs
The Acting Superintendent of Animal Control and Parks for the city of Whiting, Indiana, pleaded guilty today to diverting prescription veterinary antibiotics that were the property of the city’s animal shelter, to a resident of Chicago whom he knew to be involved in dog fighting activities, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Clifford D. Johnson, and USDA, OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony V. Mohatt.
Martin Jakubowski, 48, of Whiting, Indiana, pleaded guilty today before Judge John E. Martin of the Northern District of Indiana to one count of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by introducing a prescription veterinary drug into interstate commerce without the lawful written or oral order of a licensed veterinarian. Sentencing is set for November 17.
“This prosecution further demonstrates our commitment to end unlawful animal fighting and to bring to justice those who unlawfully participate in this criminality,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“In partnership with the Department of Justice, animal fighting is an investigative priority for the USDA-OIG,” said OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony V. Mohatt. “We will aggressively pursue and dedicate resources to assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in illegal fighting ventures, which often entail other forms of criminal activity involving drugs, firearms, and gambling.”
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Jakubowski oversaw the operation of the city of Whiting’s animal control program and animal shelter. While acting in that role, he gave prescription veterinary antibiotics to Pedro Cuellar to drug his dogs. Cuellar recently pleaded guilty to a federal dog fighting conspiracy charge in the District of New Jersey. The drugs had been purchased by the city animal shelter and were intended to treat two sick shelter cats.
Jakubowski also admitted that at various times between approximately 2011 and 2016, he housed dogs for Cuellar in buildings used by the animal shelter for periods of time extending from three days to more than a year. One of the dogs had scarring consistent with scars on dogs used in fights. Jakubowski also gave two pit bull-type dogs from the city’s animal shelter to Cuellar without standard adoption paperwork, knowing that Cuellar intended to transfer the dogs to other people. Jakubowski also admitted to his own prior involvement in a “roll” dog fight in 2004. A “roll” is a dog fight staged for the purpose of assessing the fighting characteristics of a dog or dogs, rather than for wagering purposes, and is generally stopped by the handlers before serious injuries result.
This case is part of Operation Grand Champion, a coordinated effort across numerous federal judicial districts to combat organized dog fighting. The phrase “Grand Champion” is used by dog fighters to refer to a dog with more than five dog-fighting “victories.” To date, 98 dogs have been rescued as part of Operation Grand Champion, and either surrendered or forfeited to the government.
This part of Operation Grand Champion was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Anthony Mohatt. The government is represented by Trial Attorney Ethan Eddy of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Toi Denise Houston.