Five Plead Guilty in Multi-State Dog Fighting Prosecution | OPA | Department of Justice

Justice News
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, August 11, 2017
Five Plead Guilty in Multi-State Dog Fighting Prosecution
New Jersey and Chicago-Area Defendants Convicted As Part of Operation Grand Champion

Four defendants pleaded guilty today and yesterday to federal charges for their roles in an inter-state dog fighting network spanning from New Mexico to New Jersey, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Acting United States Attorney for  the District of New Jersey William E. Fitzpatrick. A fifth defendant pleaded guilty in June. U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton accepted the following pleas:

Anthony “Monte” Gaines, 36, of Vineland, New Jersey, a/k/a “Whiteboy,” pleaded guilty yesterday to two felony counts of conspiracy to buy, sell, receive, transport, deliver, and possess dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
Lydell Harris, 32, of Vineland, New Jersey, a/k/a “Sinn,” pleaded guilty yesterday to one felony count of conspiracy to sponsor or exhibit a dog in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
Frank Nichols, 40, of Millville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of conspiracy to transport, deliver and receive dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a stolen firearm subsequent to a felony conviction.
Pedro Cuellar, 47, of Willow Springs, Illinois, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of conspiracy to transport, deliver, and receive dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
Mario Atkinson, 42, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on June 15, 2017 before Judge Anne E. Thompson in U.S. District Court in Trenton to one count of sponsoring or exhibiting a dog in an animal fighting venture, and one count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture.

Nichols and Harris pleaded guilty to indictments. Gaines, Cuellar, and Atkinson were charged with Bills of Information. Charges remain pending against four defendants.

According to court documents filed in connection with the cases, from October 2015 through June 1, 2016, the pleading defendants and their co-defendants and associates fought dogs – including to the death – and trafficked in dogs with other dog fighters in Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, and elsewhere so that those dogs could be used in dog fights. They also maintained fighting dogs and dog fighting equipment such as dog treadmills, intravenous drug bags and lines, “breeding stands” used to immobilize female dogs, and chains weighing up to several pounds per linear foot. Agents found canine blood on the floor, walls, and ceiling of the basement of one defendant’s residence, indicating that the area was likely used as a dog fighting pit. Among other acts involved in the charges, one of the pleading defendants admitted that his dog died in his car on the way home after losing a dog fight.

“Justice is being delivered in these cases,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “Ending animal fighting ventures and other inhumane practices depends upon the hard work of investigators and lawyers like those who brought these cases, and will also require continued partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Our Division is proud to be a leader in this worthy cause. We also applaud the work of the Humane Society in partnering with us to provide hope of recovery for the abused animals.”

“The criminal conduct speaks to the cruel conditions in which these animals live,” Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick said. “This office, along with our law enforcement partners and the Humane Society, is working to end this illegal activity and punish those who abuse animals for their own enjoyment.”

“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,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. “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.”

This case is part of Operation Grand Champion, a coordinated effort across numerous federal judicial districts to combat organized dog fighting. The phrase “Grand Champion” is used by dog fighters to refer to a dog with more than five dog fighting “victories.” To date, 98 dogs have been rescued as part of Operation Grand Champion, and either surrendered or forfeited to the government. The Humane Society of the United States assisted with the care of the dogs seized by federal law enforcement. The government is represented by Trial Attorney Ethan Eddy of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O’Leary. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Each animal fighting charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The weapons charge against defendant Nichols carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The investigation is ongoing.

DOJ | 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001

Stop Legal Exports of Ivory


The legal export of antique ivory from the United Kingdom is fueling global demand and putting Africa’s remaining elephants at risk. Help protect these majestic creatures and tell the British government this trade must be brought to an end.

Source: Stop Legal Exports of Ivory

Petition · House of Representatives: End Pig Cruelty in New Zealand ·

Petition · Plz sign! Help stop the mass torture and murder of dogs and cats in South Korea! ·

Shut Down Dog Meat Farms in Korea

This photo taken on August 12, 2011 shows a truck loaded with dogs stuffed in cages seen at an undisclosed location in Thailand’s Nakhon Phanom province. Thai authorities have rescued more than a thousand dogs, which were found stuffed into tiny cages and being smuggled out of the country to be cooked and eaten in Vietnam, officials said on August 13, 2011. Police intercepted four trucks stacked high with crates packed with the animals in an operation late on August 11 in Nakhon Phanom province in northeastern Thailand near the border with Laos. THAILAND OUT AFP PHOTO

Over 100 dogs were recently rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea. The cruelty of the dog meat trade is unrivaled and must be stopped. Sign this petition to demand all remaining dog meat farms in South Korea be shut down.

Source: Shut Down Dog Meat Farms in Korea

Breaking News: The Great Lakes and Wyoming wolves remain federally protected!


 Correction Update: Threats Mount For Wyoming Wolves 

Dear wolf advocates:

We have fantastic news! This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed the gray wolf in the Great Lakes and Wyoming should remain on the federal Endangered Species List.

Essentially, the federal appeals court has ruled against the Interior Department’s 2011 decision to delist the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. The court said, “Because the government failed to reasonably analyze or consider two significant aspects of the rule—the impacts of partial delisting and of historical range loss on the already-listed species—we affirm the judgment of the district court vacating the 2011 Rule.”

This decision re-affirms what we know: the wolf is a vulnerable and valuable species and needs federal protections for their long-term survival. The wolf is an important part of our state and nation’s ecology and culture. We have known all along that wolf hunting recklessly endangers this valuable asset.

Here in Minnesota, we are very pleased with recent funding approved by the state legislature to reimburse farmers for nonlethal methods to deter livestock conflicts.

We are on the right track for recovering the wolf’s genetic diversity that will keep them in existence for future generations in Minnesota and the world. You helped make this happen – let’s keep it going.
Do a dance for the wolf!

-Maureen Hackett, MD, President and Founder, Howling For Wolves

Howling For Wolves will stay in close touch with ongoing wolf issues including legal and legislative happenings. We know committees in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have passed reckless provisions in bills to remove these federal protections and to make delisting decisions not judicially reviewable.
Copyright © 2017 Howling For Wolves, All rights reserved.

Petition · Pass Resolution to End Dog And Cat Meat in ALL Countries Around the World ·

Petition · Mayor Vartan Gharpetian of Glendale: Tell Friendship City, Paju, Korea, That We’re Opposed to the Torture/Consumption of Dogs. ·

Petition · County Executive James Tedesco III of Bergen County: Tell Sister City, Hapcheon, Korea, That We’re Opposed to the Torture/Consumption of Dogs. ·

Petition · Brad Sherman: Congressman Brad Sherman, introduce a bill to protect pigs from abuse in factory farming. ·