47 Year-Old Columbia Man Sentenced to Nearly Two Years in Federal Prison for Dog Fighting and Gun Possession
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Tony Shuler, a/k/a “T Rock,” age 47, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty in September to being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition, and to Buying, Possessing, Transporting and Receiving an Animal for Participation in an Animal Fighting Venture.
Evidence presented in court showed that on April 11, 2018, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Columbia Violent Gang Task Force (CVGTF), with assistance from the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), executed a search warrant at Shuler’s home in Columbia. Agents seized 13 pit bull-type dogs, $11,300 in cash, and dog fighting paraphernalia, including a treadmill, anabolic steroids, and medications commonly used to treat wounds incurred during fights. Agents also seized a loaded SAR 9mm pistol, two boxes of .22 caliber ammunition, a box of .45 caliber ammunition, and several shotgun shells. Shuler, who has previously been convicted of numerous felony offenses including Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill, Burglary, and Aggravated Robbery, is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm or ammunition.
Shuler’s attorney urged the judge to impose a probationary sentence. However, after hearing from both parties, United States District Judge Mary G. Lewis rejected Shuler’s request and, instead, sentenced him to 21 months in federal prison, to be followed by a year of supervised release. The Court ordered, as a condition of his supervised release, that Shuler be banned from owning or possessing any dog. Shuler was also ordered to pay $10,465 in restitution, to cover costs associated with the care and disposition of the seized dogs.
Although dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it continues to occur in every part of the country and in every type of community. ASPCA experts estimate that there are tens of thousands of dog fighters across the country forcing hundreds of thousands of dogs to train, fight, and suffer for the entertainment and profit of spectators as part of this brutal “blood sport.” In the past nine years, the ASPCA has assisted with approximately 200 dogfighting cases in at least 24 states, and has impacted through rescue, consultations, and investigations nearly 5,000 victims of dogfighting.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s CVGTF, which is comprised of law enforcement officers from the FBI, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Columbia Police Department (CPD), Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD), Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD), Lexington Police Department (LPD), and the South Carolina National Guard. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jane B. Taylor of the Columbia office.