Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Kansas men charged, dogs seized in federal dog fighting investigation

U.S. Department of Justice

Two Kansas men have been charged as a result of a federal investigation into organized dog fighting, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., were: Pete Davis, Jr., 38, Kansas City, Kan., and Melvin Robinson, 41, Kansas City, Kan.

Both men were charged with one count of buying, selling, delivering or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture.

The complaint alleges Davis and Robinson owned as many as 60 dogs -- mostly pit bulls -- that they trained and took to dog fights. They kept the dogs at a farm in Harrison County, Mo., and at their residences in Kansas City, Kan, and transported some of them to fights as far away as Dallas, Texas.

"Dog fighting is not a sport -- it is a crime," said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. "Federal law prohibits cruelty to animals on the level of the events that are alleged in these charges."

Grissom thanked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals for assisting investigators by agreeing to house and care for dogs that were seized by investigators.

According to court documents, an FBI investigation that began in November 2012 revealed that:
  • To train dogs for fighting, Robinson had a treadmill at his residence in Kansas City, Kan. He routinely placed a harness on a dog and chained the harness to the treadmill for several hours at a time. The treadmill was equipped with a plywood box to keep the dog on the treadmill. Robinson also put weights on the dog to strengthen it and provided caged live chickens in front of the treadmill as bait.
  • Robinson and Davis discussed betting $20,000 to $30,000 on a dog they were training for a fight scheduled to take place on March 23, 2013, in Dallas, Texas. They called such fights "dog shows."
  • On March 17, 2013, Davis and Robinson held three dog fights involving six dogs at the farm in Missouri in preparation for the dog fight in Dallas.
  • At various times during the investigation, dogs died at the farm in Missouri and their bodies were discarded.
  • On March 22, 2013, investigators followed Robinson and Davis as they traveled to a location near Tyler, Texas, for a dog fight.
If convicted, Davis and Robinson face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

"In 2008, after the Michael Vick case, Congress increased the punishment for dog fighting," Grissom said. "What was a misdemeanor is now a felony with punishment up to five years."

Grissom thanked the following agencies for their work on the case: The FBI, the Kansas City (KS) Police Department, the Harrison County (MO) Sheriff's Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Texas Department of Public Safety - Narcotics and Highway Patrol, East Texas HIDTA, the FBI Dallas Division - East Texas Resident Agencies, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Game Wardens, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - OIG, the Lindale Police Department, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, the Dallas Police Department and the the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.