Six Men Sentenced for Dog Fighting and Narcotics Charges
RALEIGH – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announces that United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced six North Carolina men this week for engaging in illegal dog fighting and selling narcotics in the Onslow County area.
The following individuals and their sentences are listed below.
- Leo Junior Chadwick, 64 of Hubert (60 Months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release & $25,000 fine)
- Aaron Richardson, a/k/a “Jit”, 42 of Jacksonville (96 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release & $25,000 fine)
- Cedric Gerard Cook, 39 of Fayetteville (45 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release, $5,000 fine)
- James David Martin, 39 of Maple Hill (4 years probation, including 6 months of home confinement)
- James Leslie Golden, III, 47 of Ayden (4 years probation and 100 hours of community service)
- William Jay Farrior, a/k/a “Bo”, 37 of Maple Hill (48 months imprisonment and 5 years supervised release)
Chadwick, Cook, and Martin pled guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Welfare Act. The federal Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to fight dogs or to possess, train, sell, buy, deliver, receive or transport dogs intended for use in dog fighting. Richardson pled guilty to possessing and transporting dogs for dog fights. Golden pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge for attending a dog fight. Farrior pled guilty to a Criminal Information charging a Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Base (or “crack”) and Cocaine.
In October 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Jacksonville Police Department, and the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department initiated an investigation related to dog fighting and drug trafficking in Eastern North Carolina. Utilizing multiple confidential sources of information (CSIs), law enforcement infiltrated a group of individuals engaging in dog fighting in Onslow and Cumberland Counties. These individuals purchased, bred, sold, and trained American Pit Bull Terriers (APBTs) for the purpose of having the dogs participate in illegal dog fights for wagering, sport, and entertainment.
Between December 2015 and March 2016, law enforcement utilized a confidential informant to meet up with the individuals and attend four dog fights with them. The fights lasted between 51 minutes and 1 hour and 47 minutes. On at least two of the occasions, the losing dog died after the conclusion of the fights. One of the fights was a “champion fight,” meaning that the participants fought dogs who were vying for a third win. As much as $100,000 was wagered on that fight alone.
The investigation revealed that Chadwick had been involved in raising and training dogs for the past 35 years. Evidence taken from Cook’s Facebook account showed that he had admitted to fighting dogs since he was 14 or 15 years old. Martin hosted one of the fights on his property, while Golden attended two of the fights.
Upon the arrests of the defendants in December 2016, search warrants were executed on four properties suspected of containing dogs and dog fighting paraphernalia. In that process, approximately 156 dogs were seized, including some that were pregnant at the time. On Chadwick’s property in Hubert, NC, investigators located and seized 33 pit bull type dogs. Many of the dogs were found outside in makeshift wooden boxes or plastic barrels, chained to the ground with heavy chains and collars. This is a typical configuration for rural dog fighting yards, though it means that the dogs are largely ignored, fed sporadically, and kept apart from each other. Other dogs were found inside Chadwick’s residence, in small wire crates. Some of the crates were riddled with filthy newspaper and covered in animal feces. Investigators also found substantial dog fighting paraphernalia on the property, including weighted collars and heavy chains used to condition dogs, break sticks with dried blood that are used to pry apart dogs jaws during fights, and a treadmill specially adapted to run dogs for long periods of time.
The dogs seized from Chadwick’s property were in terrible shape, exhibiting scars and healing wounds from fights. Nearly all of them were extremely low weight and suffering from easily preventable and treatable diseases. One dog that weighed 31.4 lbs. at the time of intake was found tethered to a chain weighing 34 lbs., meaning it was bearing upwards of 108% of its body weight around its neck.
On Cook’s property in Fayetteville, NC, investigators seized 23 pit bull type dogs. During the search of the property, investigators also located numerous break sticks used to pry apart dogs’ jaws during fights, some with gouge marks and dried blood; two slat (wooden) treadmills and a carpet treadmill, commonly used to train dogs for fighting by latching them to tight collar affixed to the structure and having them run for extended periods of time; weighted collars and heavy chains; and numerous registration certificates and pedigrees for dogs, including ones with marks showing “Gr.Ch.” for “Grand Champions” (5-time winners), “Ch.” for “Champions” (3-time winners).
Cook’s dogs were also found in very poor condition, exhibiting scars and healing wounds consistent with organized dog fighting. A few dogs had dental fractures with exposed pulp, which causes severe pain. One dog was missing a full portion of its cheek, which is a common wound obtained during fights when one dog’s tooth punctures the other’s cheek. Another dog had a puncture wound that was “oozing red purulent material” and healing scabs through his nose and right hock. The dogs also showed aggression during behavioral tests, often attacking the stuffed toy dog.
On Richardson’s property in Jacksonville, NC, investigators seized 32 pit bull type dogs. Many of the dogs were found outside in makeshift wooden boxes or plastic barrels, chained to the ground with heavy chains and collars. One litter of new puppies and their mother were found inside the residence, in a small wire crate that was filthy with feces and roundworms and had no water or food within the enclosure. During the search of the property, investigators located several “training chains” that weighed as much as 70 lbs.; a wooden slat treadmill used to condition dogs for fighting; numerous heavy collars, chains, and break sticks; and medical supplies, including syringes and some marked as “For Veterinary Use Only.”
The dogs found on Richardson’s property also exhibited scarring and healing wounds consistent with organized dog fighting. One dog was just 6-12 months old and found tethered outside in an area of dirt with standing water with no food observable. Despite its young age, the dog exhibited multiple healing wounds on its head and front legs indicative of its use in dog fights. Another dog was missing its right hind leg and exhibited scarring on his head and remaining leg. The dog also had severe gum recession and worn teeth.
The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was requested by authorities to take custody of and provide daily care for the dogs seized during the arrests at a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location. The ASPCA also provided assistance with evidence collection, conducting forensic medical and behavioral examinations of the dogs seized in the case, and identifying dogs that were suitable for placement.
“Dog fighting is a brutal act of cruelty that represents the ultimate betrayal of the human-animal bond and results in a life of unimaginable pain and suffering for the victims,” said Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group. “We are grateful to be in a position where we can collaborate with law enforcement agencies to pursue these types of cases and bring this despicable blood sport to an end.”
Chief Michael G. Yaniero, Director of Public Safety for the City of Jacksonville, stated, “These animals live in cruel conditions. Our Community will not tolerate those who abuse animals. These are not victimless crimes.”
The remaining two defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on December 22, 2017.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Jacksonville Police Department, and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. Additional assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Wilmington Police Department, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Agriculture - OIG, the United States Marshal’s Service, and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Laura Howard prosecuted the case for the government.