Cockfighting Facilities Closed Down
Page County, VA
EX-SHERIFF DANIEL PRESGRAVES SENTENCED TO 19 MONTHS IN PRISON!
Last Chance for Animals’ (LCA) exclusive undercover investigation of the Little Boxwood Cockfighting Pit in Stanley, VA, provided the FBI with crucial information which led to ex-sheriff Daniel W. Presgraves’ guilty plea to racketeering on September 3, 2009. Presgraves was sentenced on December 18, 2009 to 19 months in prison during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. Presgraves was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, as well as restitution to victims, and had to forfeit $75,000. Judge Glen Conrad said Presgraves had lost his ability to harm the public by being stripped of his duties as sheriff.
Presgraves addressed the court as well: “I violated the trust of the people of Page County that they placed in me and I’m deeply sorry”.
Presgraves was alleged to have taken bribes in exchange for his silence of the cockfighting pit. By pleading guilty in September, Presgraves avoided going to trial on 21 federal racketeering counts, which included: money laundering, mail fraud, cockfighting-related conspiracy, and violating the civil rights of female subordinates.
LCA’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU) met with the USDA, FBI and the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Roanoke, VA, and turned over all their pertinent information on Little Boxwood. As a result of this investigation, the Animal Fighting Venture Prohibition law (U.S. Code-Title 7, Chapter 54, Section 2156) was used for the first time in U.S. history.
Pictures of dead chickens, a cockpit, and fight schedules were among the evidence found at the Boxwood Pit, as well as a photo of a “Sheriff’s Association Cockfighting Handout.”
In 2007, LCA’s SIU’s undercover investigation was responsible for one of the largest cockfighting busts in U.S. history. LCA’s SIU provided the necessary information to the authorities, which led to a raid on a popular cockfighting arena near Van Buren, AR and 76 felony arrests.
“We want to thank Tom Bondurant of the Western District of VA U.S. Attorney’s office, the Winchester resident agency of the FBI, the USDA OIG office in Beltsville, MD, the IRS, and the state police who helped with the raid, “says Chris DeRose, President and founder of LCA. “This is a notice to all public officials in the U.S. who turn a blind eye on animal fighting.”
Henry County, Virginia
On June 30th, Virginia's stricter animal-fighting legislation HB 656 / SB 592 took effect, making cockfighting and attending any animal fight a felony. Last Chance for Animals (LCA) Special Investigation Unit (SIU) supplied Bob Bushnell, Henry County District Attorney, with classified undercover cockfighting video shot in Virginia. After viewing the LCA video, Bushnell lobbied strongly for the harsher law against animal fighting activities.
Bushnell attributes LCA's undercover work as an essential part of this stricter animal fighting law in Virginia. "Virginia had been a refuge of cockfighters in the South," said Bushnell, "I am very grateful for the help LCA gave us in getting this legislation toughened."
Carroll County, Virginia
July 2007, LCA contacted the Carroll County Sheriff's Department with information supplied from our SIU team regarding the Copperhead Ridge cockfighting facility in Virginia. Copperhead Ridge is the largest of two cockfighting pits in Virginia, with attendance at over 250 people.
The LCA undercover investigator supplied valuable information that lead to the closure of the facility and the arrest of its owner. According to the Sheriff's Department, they are keeping a close eye on the facility to make sure no further illegal activity is conducted on the premises.
LCA would like to thank the Carroll County Sheriff's Department for their hard work.
Van Buren, Arkansas
Saturday, May 19th, 2007 at 1:30 PM, with information provided by LCA's Special Investigations Unit, 150 law enforcement personnel from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies raided a crowded and popular cockfighting arena near Van Buren, Arkansas.
The raid, which led to over 70 felony charges, is the nation's largest cockfighting bust and arrest in history. Bonds were placed from $10,000 to $25,000. The federal search warrant was issued for 10100 Shiloh Road in Crawford County.
LCA is working to put Arkansas out of the cockfighting business! With cockfighting more stringent in each state, specifically neighboring Oklahoma, fighting is increasing in Arkansas, with large numbers of people crossing the border to fight where misdemeanor charges and small fines only apply. Cockfighting is a breeding ground for organized crime, i.e. drug dealing and gambling. Arkansas is a pivotal state in the fight against cockfighting. The lawmakers must make cockfighting a felony and LCA will continue to provide the necessary investigative work on behalf of all animals.