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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dog-Fighter Damiane Buehrer Gets 46 Months In Federal Prison

Buehrer, A West Michigan Resident, Continued to Participate in Underground Pit Bull Terrier Fighting Even After Serving State Prison Time for Dog-Fighting Offense

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - Damiane Buehrer, 40, of Jonesville, Michigan, was sentenced yesterday to serve 46 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for participating in a dog-fighting conspiracy between November 2016 and December 2017. The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge of the Western District of Michigan made the announcement.

          Buehrer and four co-defendants were indicted on April 18, 2018, for conspiracy and for unlawfully possessing animals to use in dog fighting, along with equipment to train and condition them for fighting. The remaining co-defendants, including Charles Joseph Miller, Kian Maliak Miller, Charles Deon Davis, Jr., and Jarvis Jason-Roy Askew, have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Buehrer was convicted in State court in 2010, under Michigan’s animal-fighting statute.

          Between November 14, 2016, and December 7, 2017, as part of the conspiracy, Buehrer—who had just been released from the Michigan Department of Corrections in August 2015 after serving a five-year-sentence for the same activity—acquired and possessed four dogs for the purposes of breeding, training, conditioning, and developing them to fight other dogs for prize money in underground and illegal contests that routinely result in dogs being wounded, maimed, and killed. Buehrer’s dogs, along with 33 other dogs owned by his co-conspirators, were rescued by Federal and state law-enforcement agencies as part of the investigation. Buehrer also possessed medical equipment used to treat dogs that were wounded during such fights, as well as equipment for training the dogs, including treadmills, weighted chains, "break sticks," and a "jenny mill" apparatus that forces dogs to run for extended periods of time to build fighting endurance. The co-defendants regularly exchanged interstate electronic communications for the purpose of sharing information about training and conditioning dogs for fighting, breeding fighting dogs, contracting for and sponsoring dog fights, collecting forfeited funds when a contracted dog fight resulted in a forfeit, and sharing results of dog fights.

          In imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney characterized dog fighting as "disgusting," and observed that "the depravity of training animals to fight is difficult to understand, to say the least."

          "Damiane Buehrer and his codefendants participated in a sick and brutal underground activity that, because of its interstate and international nature, is subject to Federal criminal jurisdiction" stated U.S. Attorney Birge. "Because of the uniquely barbarous and cruel nature of this activity, my Office, along with the rest of the West Michigan law-enforcement community, is committed to investigating, punishing and deterring criminals like Buehrer and his coconspirators."

          USDA-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge, Anthony Mohatt added, "The provisions of the Animal Welfare Act were designed to protect animals from being used in illegal fighting ventures, which often entail other forms of criminal activity involving drugs, firearms and gambling. Together with the Department of Justice, animal fighting is an investigative priority for USDA-OIG, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in animal fighting ventures."

          "Today’s sentence sends a message that there are serious consequences for participating in violent, organized criminal activity," said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Detroit Division of the FBI. "The FBI will continue to work alongside our federal, state and local partners to bring to justice those who engage in this type of behavior for the sake of entertainment and illegal gambling."

          "The Michigan State Police (MSP) appreciates the strong working relationships with its federal law enforcement partners in bringing criminals to justice" stated First District Public Information Officer, Lt. Darren Green. "In regards to MSP personnel involved in this particular investigation, D./Sgt. Cyndee Gochanour worked tirelessly on this case. Her strong work ethic and dedication were instrumental in bringing this case to its conclusion."

          The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Zell and Hagen W. Frank, and Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Blackwell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Michigan State Police, and the Ingham County Animal Control Office. The ASPCA assisted with the care and rehabilitation of the dogs rescued by federal law enforcement.

END

Updated November 1, 2018