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Four defendants were sentenced this month in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, as a result of their roles in a multi-state dog fighting conspiracy that extended to New Mexico and Indiana. Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito of the District of New Jersey made the announcement.

  • Today, Lydell Harris, 32, of Vineland, New Jersey, a/k/a “Sinn,” was sentenced to serve 17 months in prison. He had pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to sponsor or exhibit a dog in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
  • Anthony “Monte” Gaines, 37, of Vineland, New Jersey, was sentenced on March 5, 2018, to serve 42 months in prison. Gaines had pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to buy, sell, receive, transport, deliver, and possess dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
  • Frank Nichols, 40, of Millville, New Jersey, was sentenced March 9, 2018, to serve 57 months in prison. He had pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to transport, deliver and receive dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a stolen firearm subsequent to a felony conviction.
  • Pedro Cuellar, 47, of Willow Springs, Illinois, was sentenced on March 12, 2018, to serve 12 months and a day in prison. He had pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to transport, deliver, and receive dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture.

A fifth co-defendant who has pleaded guilty will be sentenced on April 18, 2018. The court is expected to set a trial date for four additional defendants for some time this summer. Judge Anne E. Thompson sentenced Gaines and Judge Peter G. Sheridan sentenced Harris, Cuellar, and Nichols.

According to court documents filed in connection with the cases, from October 2015 through June 1, 2016, the defendants and their associates fought dogs – including to the death – and trafficked in dogs with other dog fighters in Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, and elsewhere so that those dogs could be used in dog fights. They also maintained fighting dogs and dog fighting equipment such as dog treadmills, intravenous drug bags and lines, “breeding stands” used to immobilize female dogs, and chains weighing up to several pounds per linear foot. Agents found canine blood on the floor, walls, and ceiling of the basement of one defendant’s residence, indicating that the area was likely used as a dog fighting pit. Among other acts involved in the charges, one of the pleading defendants admitted that his dog died in his car on the way home after losing a dog fight.

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