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Press Release

Sixth Defendant Pleads Guilty to Local “DMV Board” Dogfighting Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Westmoreland County man pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to engage in dogfighting. 

According to court documents, from at least May 2015 through August 2020, Tarry Jeron “TJ”  Wilson, 38, and other conspirators from Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, used a messaging app private group, which they generally referred to as “the DMV Board” or “the Board,” as a place where they and their associates could discuss training fighting dogs, exchange videos about dogfighting, and arrange and coordinate dog fights, away from the view of law enforcement authorities. Members of the DMV Board also used the messaging app to compare methods of killing dogs that lost fights, as well as to circulate media reports about conspirators who had been caught by law enforcement and discuss methods to minimize the likelihood that they would be caught themselves.

According to court documents, Wilson, who used the kennel name “City Limits,” regularly used the DMV Board to solicit fights for his dogs, and to notify his fellow dogfighters of the results of the fights that were arranged. In January 2019, Wilson entered his dog “City Limits Lil Bella” in a fight in Delaware. The fight lasted one hour and 12 minutes, before his dog lost the fight. Wilson later described on the DMV Board how, when his attempt to electrocute the dog failed, he simply shot her.

In June 2020, Wilson attended five dogfights, including two involving his own dogs. Wilson’s dog, “Thor,” won the first fight when the opposing dog quit 16 minutes into the fight. Wilson’s dog, “Red Alert,” won the last fight after 32 minutes when the opposing dog stopped moving. In August 2020, Wilson possessed eight pit-bull type dogs at his Warsaw residence, including four that bore scarring patterns that indicated previous involvement in dogfighting.

According to court documents, Wilson warned members of the DMV Board to be sure to confirm the death of the dogs that they try to kill upon losing a fight. He explained that one time, he and a co-conspirator thought that their dog had died in a fight, only to find that the dog returned to life. Further, Wilson provided on the DMV Board instructions on how to kill a losing dog and offered to drive to another conspirator’s house to hang the dog from a tree himself. Wilson told his fellow DMV Board members that he “loved” killing losing dogs.

According to court documents, in response to a news article posted to the DMV Board regarding an individual charged with running a dogfighting operation, Wilson warned: “People like dogs. They don’t like what we doing to them, though, I bet you that.”

In August 2022, Wilson and six others were indicted for a dogfighting conspiracy involving the DMV Board. Five of those six have previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced for dogfighting offenses.

Wilson is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20, 2023. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg and Cristina C. Stam are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-154.

Updated April 4, 2023