MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A judge has delayed the sentencing for ten people who have pleaded guilty to dog fighting.
The initial sentencing was set for August 12, but prosecutors say that they need more than one day to present a testimony about the conditions of more than 300 dogs recovered in the case.
The judge has rescheduled the sentencing for Oct. 29 through 31 in Montgomery.
On August 23, 2013, the following people were arrested after being indicted for violations of the federal dog fighting statute and the federal gambling statute:
Donnie Anderson, 48, of Auburn, Alabama
Demontt Allen, 37, of Houston, Texas
William Antone Edwards, 42, of Brantley, Alabama
William Oneil Edwards, 39, of Elba, Alabama
Robin Stinson, 40, of Elba, Alabama
Michael Martin, 54, of Auburn, Alabama
Lawrence Watford, 35, of Adel, Georgia
Ricky Van Le, 24, of Biloxi, Mississippi
David Sellers, 52, of Opelika, Alabama
Sandy Brown, 47, of Brownsville, Alabama
Court records show, that between 2009 and 2013, the above individuals conspired to promote and sponsor dog fights, and conspired to possess, buy, sell, transport and deliver dogs that were involved in dog fighting.
The indictment further charged these defendants with conducting an illegal gambling business.
On August 23, 2013, agents executed 13 search warrants, 11 in Alabama and two in Georgia.
Agents seized 367 pit bull terriers that appeared as if they had been fought multiple times, guns, illegal narcotics, drugs used to treat and train dogs, and other evidence indicative of dog fighting.
"The sheer number of dogs seized speaks volumes as to the inhumane and violent abuse of animals associated with the illegal practices of drug activity afflicting our communities," stated Stephen Richardson, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mobile Division.
During the course of this investigation, agents also seized over $500,000 from dog fighters involved in this organization.
"These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dog fight," stated U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. "The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved in this in case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is. These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed 'fun' of watching and gambling on a dog fight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law."
The U.S. Attorney's Office, Auburn Police Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation requested the assistance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States to help investigate the dog fighting and take custody of the dogs seized.
"This is a great example of federal, state, and local agencies working together to make communities safer," stated Paul Register, Auburn Police Division Chief. "It is not just about the egregious act of dog fighting itself, but the other criminal activity that is affiliated with it. It is important that local law enforcement, such as the Auburn Police Division, work together with other agencies to address crimes that affect the entire country."
"We are committing to eradicating dog fighting in every dark corner where it festers," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "This series of raids reminds every dogfighter that they are not beyond the law and their day of reckoning will come."
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years for conspiracy to fight dogs, a five year maximum sentence on each of the 15 dog fighting counts, a five year maximum for conducting a gambling business, and five year maximum on the 13 counts of using the telephone to promote gambling.
The defendants are also subject to fines and a period of supervised release if convicted.