Dog Fighting Investigation Leads to Federal Dogfighting, Marijuana Grow & Firearms Charges Plea
ELIZABETH CITY – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that in federal court today, ZHAQWAUN JEVONTAE GARY, 22, pled guilty to Possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting. On April 5, 2016 his father, ELTON GARY, 47, pled guilty to exhibiting and sponsoring an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; attending an animal fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; possession of firearm and ammunition by a felon; possession with intent to distribute more than 50 but less than 100 marijuana plants and aiding and abetting; and maintaining drug-involved premises and aiding and abetting. On April 21, 2016 his mother, ERICA POWELL GARY, 44, pled guilty to possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting, and possession of firearm by a felon.
On April 7, 2013 the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint that ERICA GARY was conducting dog fighting operations at her residence in Halifax County. When deputies arrived at the home, no dog fighting in progress was observed on the property, but blood samples were obtained from an area that appeared to have had recent dog fighting and multiple animals were seized. In the shed, deputies located a steel bucket with bloody water, and what appeared to be a ring for dog fighting. A carpet with blood was found and there were splatters on the walls. The dogs were in a wooden fenced in area and there was blood at the bottom of the fence.
Several pit bulls were chained up within the fence. A Halifax Animal Control, was called out and gave his opinion that this was a dog fighting ring based on his review of the shed set up and appearance. Deputies located approximately 17 dogs (pit bulls) and they all had wounds and scars consistent with dog fighting. While looking for evidence of dog fighting, deputies located marijuana plants growing in a shed on the property. Deputies obtained a search warrant based on the discovery. There were approximately 68 plants, a grow light, seeds, timers, heaters, etc. in support of the growing operation. A search warrant was also executed at the home of Erica Gary and two firearms were located in the closet of the bedroom shared by Erica and Elton Gary.
At sentencing ELTON and ERICA GARY face in excess of 10 years imprisonment. ZHAQWAUN JEVONTAE GARY faces up to 5 years imprisonment. A sentencing date for these three defendants has not been set by the court.
The criminal investigation of this case was conducted by Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Halifax County Animal Control, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney S. Katherine Burnette is handling the case on behalf of the government.