WISE — Six Southwest Virginia residents were arrested Saturday by state and federal authorities for their alleged involvement in a cockfighting ring based out of Kentucky.
The arrests were announced Monday afternoon by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Virginia Attorney General's Office.
Wesley Dean Robinson, 57, and Jonathan Robinson, 25, both of Wise County, appeared in federal court in Abingdon Monday on charges of conspiring to operate an illegal gambling enterprise and illegally conducting cockfights.
Three Floyd County, Ky., residents — Walter Dale Stumbo, 51; Sonya Stumbo, 51, and Joshua Stumbo, 25 — face similar charges and are expected to appear Tuesday in federal court in Abingdon.
Four others defendants — all residents of Pound, Va. — are facing state charges in Wise County in connection with the alleged cockfighting operation.
Phillip Albert Meade, 54, faces nine felony counts of unlawful selling of an alcoholic beverage while being armed; one count of possessing marijuana not obtained from a valid prescription and four counts of transporting untaxed alcoholic beverages, while Tammy Carol Meade, 47, of Pound, is charged with two felony counts of unlawful selling of an alcoholic beverage while being armed and two counts of transporting untaxed alcoholic beverages.
Jeffery A. Meade, 40, of Pound, is charged with five felony counts of unlawful selling of an alcoholic beverage while being armed, seven counts of transporting untaxed alcoholic beverages and one count of selling alcoholic beverages without a license.
Russell Peaks, 38, of Pound, was also taken into custody and charged with one felony count of selling, giving, or distribution of a Schedule III controlled substance.
The charges against all nine individuals stem from allegations that they conspired to have cockfights at the Big Blue Sportsmen's Club in McDowell, Ky.
A federal criminal complaint unsealed Monday accuses the group, and others, of organizing what law enforcement described as a "comprehensive cockfighting derby" at Big Blue.
The organizers allegedly collected "parking" fees from spectators and entrance fees from handlers. They also allegedly sold antibiotics for fighting birds and operated a full-service restaurant for spectators outfitted with slot machines and fighting gaffes for fighting cocks.
Authorities said spectators traveled to the fights from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Georgia.
Entrance fees at Big Blue were allegedly set at $250 per entry, with approximately 100 total entries per derby.
The federal case against the Stumpos and Robinsons is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Ramseyer.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Assistant Virginia Attorney General Michelle Welch will handle the state charges on behalf of the Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.
A spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General's Office said Welch was asked to take the case by Wise County prosecutors because of her experience in handling crimes that involve animal fighting conspiracies.
Multiple agencies participated in the investigation, including the USDA Inspector General, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement and others.
The Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, the Virginia State Police Tactical Team, the Southwest Virginia Regional Task Force, the Wise County Sheriff's Office and Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, the Virginia State Veterinarian's Office, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and other law enforcement participated in the weekend's arrests.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also took part in the operation.comments powered by Disqus