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Press Release

Ohio Man Sentenced to Prison for Dogfighting and Drug Distribution

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

An Ohio man was sentenced today to 21 months in prison and three years supervised release after pleading guilty to dogfighting and fentanyl distribution. For today’s sentence, he will serve nine months concurrent with, and 12 months after, the 10 years he is already serving on the drug charges.

Michael Valentine, 40, of Bidwell, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of raising and training dogs for the purpose of fighting, and five counts related to fentanyl distribution. He was sentenced on Jan. 26, 2023, to serve 10 years in prison for the drug distribution charge and five years of supervised release. In total, Valentine will serve 11 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

“Dogfighting is a barbaric offense that cruelly harms animals and endangers the surrounding community,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates that those engaged in this horrific practice face significant punishment.”

“Valentine’s crimes endangered both humans and dogs,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. “Thanks to the work of our investigative partners, hundreds of grams of fentanyl were taken out of circulation before reaching our local communities and more than 50 dogs were removed from the defendant. It is appropriate that Valentine will spend a significant amount of time in federal prison.”

“The relevant 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 including drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Springer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). “The USDA-OIG thanks the Justice Department, who prosecuted the case, and Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI for their assistance with the investigation.”

According to court documents, law enforcement first investigated Valentine for dogfighting offenses in 2019 after a dog attacked a small child living with him. That investigation led to a search warrant of the Valentine’s residence and the seizure of 40 dogs. The search also recovered numerous items of dog fighting paraphernalia, including treadmills, veterinary supplies and dogfighting videos.

On March 8, 2022, a second search warrant was executed at the Valentine’s residence as part of a fentanyl-distribution investigation. That search revealed dog fighting paraphernalia, as well as two assault-style rifles. In addition, a search of a nearby parcel of land revealed 677 grams of fentanyl and 69 grams of cocaine packaged for distribution, and an additional 11 dogs, which Valentine was keeping for purposes of dogfighting. Valentine had previously sold 141 grams of fentanyl from the property.

The case was investigated by USDA-OIG and the FBI with assistance from the Gallia County Sherriff’s Office.

This investigation was conducted as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) initiative. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Senior Trial Attorney Adam Cullman of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Pakiz for the Southern District of Ohio and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Marous for the Southern District of Ohio are prosecuting the case.

Updated February 15, 2024

Topics
Animal Welfare
Environment
Press Release Number: 24-89