RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Four defendants pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to federal dogfighting and conspiracy charges for their alleged roles in an interstate dogfighting network across Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, according to prosecutors.
The defendants were named in a Tuesday release as Odell S. Anderson, Sr., 52, of Washington, D.C.; Emmanuel A. Powe, Sr., 46, of Frederick, Md.; Chester A. Moody, Jr., 46, of Glenn Dale, Md.; and Carlos L. Harvey, 46, of King George, Va.
According to court documents filed in connection with the cases, the four defendants and their co-conspirators participated in animal-fighting ventures from April 2013 through July 11, 2018. This reportedly involved training, transporting and breeding dogs for dogfighting events.
“Dogfighting is absolutely intolerable and callously subjects defenseless animals to inhumane treatment and abuse,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Raj Parekh said. “We must protect and care for these animals—not cruelly turn them against each other for profit. Those who engage in this deplorable conduct will face justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
Prosecutors referenced a specific dogfighting event on April 3, 2016. According to a release, for that event, Anderson, Powe and Harvey met up with others in the parking lot of Walmart in King George, Va., before heading to the location of the fight.
The U.S. Attorneys Office said three defendants participated in a “two-card” dogfight, which the Department of Justice said is an event involving two separate dogfights with different dogs and handlers. This event involves a strict training regimen the dogs are put through for several weeks before the event.
The Justice Department said at least one of the dogs died from its injuries from this April 2016 dogfight.
“Organized dogfighting — whether on a professional, hobbyist or street fighter level — does not have a place in our society,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) said. “Dogfighting is an extremely violent and secretive venture of animal abuse, and bringing young children to these fighting events also exposes another generation to indifference towards animal cruelty and disrespect for the law against this violent and illegal activity.”
According to a release, the defendants also maintained fighting dogs at their residences, as well as dogfighting equipment, including dog treadmills, “med kits,” “breeding stands” used to immobilize female dogs, and chains weighing up to several pounds per foot.
“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,” Special Agent in Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG) said. “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.”
Prosecutors said that Moody will be sentenced on August 27, followed by Powe and Harvey on September 1, and Anderson on October 6. Each animal-fighting conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Anderson also pleaded guilty to one felony count of causing a child under the age of 16 to attend an animal-fighting venture. That charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
All four defendants entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. in Richmond, Virginia.