KENTUCKY, USA — A federal grand jury has indicted 17 Kentuckians in four separate indictments with various offenses related to animal fighting and cruelty.
“Animal fighting ventures are cruel and illegal,” Carlton S. Shier, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said. “We are committed to enforcing federal animal cruelty laws."
16 out of the 17 individuals were charged with conspiracy to knowingly sponsor and exhibit various animal fighting ventures in eastern Kentucky. The other six Kentuckians were charged with exhibiting roosters at those animal fights.
“The gruesome ritual of animal fighting simply has no place in a civilized society. Animal cruelty, however, is just one criminal aspect surrounding this barbaric activity," Jodi Cohen, with the FBI's Louisville office, said.
Investigators said that one of the defendants was charged with owning roosters for the purpose of having them fight along with two counts of attempted bribery.
Officials accused the individual of attempting to bribe a Mason County Sheriff with more than $5,000 to influence him in connection to a planned animal fighting venture.
"Whether it is illegal gambling or the attempted corruption of our public officials," Cohen said. "The criminal enterprise surrounding cockfighting operations will not be tolerated."
The FBI's efforts, along with the help of state and federal law enforcement partners, led to these indictments in eastern Kentucky.
Each defendant faces up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The defendant accused of attempting to bribe an official faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the attempted bribery counts.
For more information regarding the investigation, click here.