ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — A Maryland man was one of the first members of a multi-state dog fighting conspiracy ring to be sentenced this week after he previously pled guilty in November.

Between May 2015 and August 2020, multiple men from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. were part of a part messaging group called “The DMV Board,” in which members discussed and organized dog fighting. According to the Humane Society, dog fighting is a felony offense in all 50 states and also at the federal level.

According to court documents, Charles Edward Williams, III, 50, from Capitol Heights, Md., entered multiple dogs into fights. In March 2018, Williams entered a dog into a fight at a warehouse in Philadelphia and attended the fight with co-conspirator Laron Mecco “Frog” West. Police broke up the fight, seized several weapons and two injured dogs, and arrested several people present, including Williams.

In April 2019, Williams, alongside co-conspirator Michael Roy Hilliard, drove to Bunnlevel, North Carolina to enter his dog in a fight. Williams’ dog won the fight, and the losing dog was shot and killed.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Williams was sentenced to two years in prison for conspiring to engage in dog fighting.

Williams is the latest member of “The DMV Board” to be sentenced for his involvement in dog fighting. Williams and six others were indicted for a dog fighting conspiracy in August 2022. West pled guilty for his involvement in November 2022. Later that month, Williams, Hilliard and co-conspirators Derek Garcia and Ricardo Thorne also pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy.

According to previous Department of Justice releases, Thorne charged admission to dog fights at a warehouse in D.C. he referred to as “Darkside Kennels.” Police also found dog fighting paraphernalia and nine dogs that had scarring and lacerations wounds during a search of Thorne’s home on July 30, 2019.

Garcia, another member of the group, sold fighting dogs, entered his own dogs into fights, and tried to delete messages in “The DMV Board” group to prevent members from being arrested for their involvement.

Hilliard, Garcia, and Thorne are scheduled to be sentenced in March 2023, according to the Department of Justice. They each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison.