Lead defendant admits guilt in Georgia dog-fighting operation
AUGUSTA, GA: All of the defendants charged in connection with a dog-fighting ring broken up in 2018 in Dodge County have admitted guilt to federal charges now that the operator of the dog-fighting facility has pled guilty.
James Lampkin, a/k/a “Pookie,” 46, of Eastman, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Welfare Act, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The plea subjects Lampkin to a statutory sentence of up to five years in prison, along with substantial fines and up to three years of supervised release upon completion of any prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Animal fighting is cruel and barbaric, and has no place in our society – and it is particularly unwelcome in the Southern District of Georgia,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Our vigilant law enforcement partners shut down Lampkin’s brutal operation and rescued dozens of animals from a life of pain and misery.”
“This investigation and prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those individuals involved in the inhumane torture of animals for the purpose of entertainment,” said Jason Williams, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General. “We appreciate the partnership with our law enforcement partners in pursuing these purveyors of death and senseless suffering.”
Five of Lampkin’s co-defendants – Benjamin Shinhoster III, 41, of Augusta; Deveon Hood, 34, of Tennille, Ga.; Andre Archer, 23, of Sandersville, Ga.; Xavier Simmons, 34, of Sandersville, Ga.; and Joe Ford, 33, of Elgin, S.C. – also await sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to related felony charges.
The remaining co-defendant, Dwight McDuffie, 44, of Eastman, Ga., pled guilty to Attending an Animal Fighting Venture, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to two years of probation, 150 hours of community service, and prohibited from owning animals.
In March 2018, Georgia State Patrol troopers and Georgia Department of Natural Resources game wardens conducted traffic stops in Eastman after receiving reports of a dogfighting operation at Lampkin’s property. During those traffic stops, officers discovered a dog in one of the vehicles that appeared to have been injured while fighting. Investigators later seized 63 dogs at Lampkin’s residence while serving a search warrant after finding the animals chained in the back yard. Investigators also discovered a disassembled pit where fights were held, and equipment used to train dogs for fighting.
While the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated a civil forfeiture action, an animal rescue operation took custody of the dogs.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Rock and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alejandro V. Pascual IV.
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422