Sentencing for attack on Steve Hindi & Adam Fahnestock by alleged cockfighters is set for November 10
IRONTON, Ohio––James V. “Bub” Newcomb II, 54, of Waterloo, Ohio, was on November 5, 2021 convicted of two felonies and one misdemeanor resulting from his January 3, 2021 attack on Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] founder Steve Hindi and SHARK investigator Adam Fahnestock as they launched a drone to investigate an alleged cockfight on Newcomb’s property.
The SHARK investigation was part of a nationwide campaign against cockfighting funded by the Humane Farming Association.
Newcomb was convicted after a two-day jury trial conducted by Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrew Ballard.
Felonious assault & felony theft
Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7 shortly after the trial concluded that Newcomb was convicted of felonious assault for using his pickup truck to ram Fahnestock’s car, running it off the road into a deep ditch. An insurance investigator later declared the car a total loss.
Hindi said Newcomb was also convicted of felony theft for causing the loss or destruction of the SHARK drone, the drone controller, and miscellaneous camera equipment.
Hindi was disappointed, he said, that Newcomb was convicted only of misdemeanor assault for injuring him.
“Put your affairs in order”
Newcomb is to be sentenced at the Lawrence County courthouse in Ironton on November 10, 2021. Judge Ballard warned Newcomb to put his affairs in order, as the multiple convictions convey the possibility of prison time.
Shannon Lee Clark, 36, a distant Newcomb neighbor, originally indicted with Newcomb, was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges, and is expected to receive only a probationary sentence after testifying against Newcomb, Hindi said.
Hindi and fellow SHARK investigator Janet Enoch, who was also in the courtroom, told ANIMALS 24-7 that Clark’s testimony significantly misrepresented the events of January 3, 2021, as did Newcomb’s own testimony.
Hindi suffered multiple injuries from being tackled, thrown to the ground, and allegedly repeatedly kicked by both men, including a head wound that required six surgical staples to close, a separated back, and a broken rib.
Hidden camera documented assault
Unknown to Newcomb and Clark at the time, Hindi was able to document much of what transpired with a hidden camera.
The video showed an enraged Newcomb charging Hindi, who had just launched a SHARK drone from near where the Newcomb driveway meets the public highway at 366 Wiseman Cemetery Hill Road, between Ironton and Waterloo, Ohio.
The drone was initially visible, as was the Newcomb mailbox and, in the background, both Shannon Clark and the Newcomb front gate.
Seizing the drone controller, Newcomb smashed it against the mailbox, thereby ensuring that the drone would crash, since it could not be safely landed without the controller.
(See Investigators survive ambush attack at alleged cockfight in Ohio.)
Accused denied second assault
Hindi testified that both Newcomb and Clark participated in kicking and beating him, but the video did not clearly capture Clark’s face at that point. This may be why Clark was offered the plea bargain for his testimony, and why Newcomb was convicted only of misdemeanor assault against Hindi.
Hindi testified that after Fahnestock drove away, following his order, Hindi himself fled on foot to the nearby Etna/Waterloo Road, but was pursued, blocked by a truck, and beaten further.
Again shaking himself loose, Hindi tumbled down a steep slope to nearby Johns Creek, where he found cover and hid until his cell phone rang, informing him that Fahnestock had been run off the road at the edge of Waterloo. Fahnestock’s dash camera captured brief video images of Newcomb driving the pickup truck that repeatedly rammed his car from behind.
Hindi at that point had no idea who his assailants were, but working from his video images, ANIMALS 24-7 photo and art editor Beth Clifton made the first identification of Newcomb within hours.
(Alleged cockfighters who attacked Steve Hindi identified by ANIMALS 24-7 and tipster.)
Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7 that in court both Newcomb and Clark denied having confronted and assaulted him on the Etna/Waterloo road.
A Lawrence County, Ohio grand jury on February 23, 2021 originally indicted Newcomb on two counts of second degree felonious assault, two counts of fifth degree felony theft, and one count of felonious evidence tampering.
Clark was originally indicted on one count of second degree felonious assault, one count of fifth degree felony theft, and one count of felonious evidence tampering.
The original charges against both men were apparently consolidated before the trial.
Posted Newcomb’s wife Beckie Newcomb to Facebook on October 26, 2021, “Yesterday we had our final pre trial. The prosecutor offered Bub 16-20 years. Of course we turned it down.”
“I can’t lose my husband over this”
In the same posting Beckie Newcomb issued extensive allegations against Hindi, contending falsely that “He has a record way longer than mine or Bubs.”
Hindi has never been convicted of an offense other than hunter harassment, and that only on one occasion, approximately 25 years ago.
“Reach out to the Lawrence County prosecutor,” Beckie Newcomb urged. “Let him know that you do not support his case. Let them know that here in Lawrence County Ohio we take care of our farms [the Newcombs, apart from raising gamefowl, operated a junkyard] and don’t want outsiders coming in to tell us how to do it. I’m going to ask y’all to fill the courthouse on November 4 to show your support.
“I can’t lose my husband over this,” Beckie Newcomb finished.
Responded a poster identified as Renfro L Kenneth, “One shot is all it takes.”
Added a Chad Micheal, “Back in the 70s they take um out. Problem solved.”
Hindi and Enoch told ANIMALS 24-7 that they observed heavy security both in the courtroom and in the corridors of the courthouse.
Judge Ballard cautioned about fifteen James Newcomb supporters against courtroom outbursts, and ordered a man who wore a t-shirt supporting Newcomb not to stand up, turn around, or do anything else that would display the shirt to the jury.
The scheduled November 10, 2021 sentencing is expected to take James Newcomb’s priors into consideration.
Even without the priors, the penalties for the charges of which James Newcomb was convicted would be significant.
Second degree felonious assault in Ohio, defined as “knowingly causing serious physical harm,” carries a potential penalty of up to eight years in prison, a fine of $15,000, and five years on probation.
A fifth-degree felony theft conviction carries a prison sentence ranging from six to 12 months in prison, and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
The misdemeanor assault conviction could cost Newcomb 180 days in jail plus a fine of $1,000.
Because Newcomb has prior convictions, including a prior felony conviction, his sentences could potentially be doubled.
Public records indicate that a James Newcomb was charged with domestic violence in Cincinnati on September 1, 1999, but the charge was dropped three weeks later.
A James Newcomb was charged with littering on October 27, 2001, also in the Cincinnati area.
Cincinnati is 132 miles north of Ironton and Waterloo, so the accused in those cases may not have been the same James Newcomb.
A James Newcomb was charged with drug abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia on March 11, 2005, however, in Portsmouth, Ohio, just 27 miles north. The paraphernalia charge was dropped after this James Newcomb pleaded guilty to the drug abuse charge.
Beckie has rap sheet too
Arrested on July 19, 2010, James and Rebecca [Beckie] Newcomb, both of 366 Township Road 267, Waterloo, Ohio, the same location as the alleged first assault on Steve Hindi, on February 17, 2011 pleaded not guilty to trafficking in marijuana, a fourth degree felony.
James Newcomb and his wife Rebecca “Beckie” Newcomb operate the Newcomb Game Farm at this address. Beckie Newcomb is also secretary of the Ohio Game Bird Association, headquartered at the same address.
James Newcomb was released from custody pending trial on the 2011 charges on $50,000 bond.
Rebecca Newcomb reversed her plea to guilty on March 24, 2011, and was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term plus three years on probation.
James Newcomb was convicted on April 6, 2011.
Cockfighting to the end
Apparently undeterred by the charges James Newcomb was facing, including the prospect of prison time, James and Beckie Newcomb on July 18, 2021 “held another illegal cockfight on their property,” Hindi informed the Lawrence County commissioners.
SHARK investigators obtained extensive video documentation of the cockfight.
“James and Beckie Newcomb are clearly shown in those images,” Hindi said, posting examples to Facebook.
SHARK also documented that Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy Michael Delawder, dispatched to the scene, conversed with both James and Beckie Newcomb in view of dozens of parked vehicles belonging to alleged cockfight spectators.
Delawder, however, reported that “he did not make contact with anyone on the Newcomb property. This is false,” Hindi charged. “Deputy Delawder lied.”
Hindi asked at the time that James Newcomb’s bail bond be revoked, and that Beckie Newcomb be charged with attending a cockfight, but Lawrence County prosecutor Brigham M. Anderson took no action in response.
Mary Finelli says
Thank goodness SHARK was able to film the attacks, and that the assaults are being prosecuted as seriously as they are. Thank goodness especially that no one from SHARK was harmed worse than they were.
Anyone capable of such viciousness is a danger to all and should be treated accordingly. Given the reckless disregard they have for human life, imagine how heartless they are towards the nonhuman animals who are at their lack of mercy. It’s disgusting there are others of their ilk who would rally to their support.
Hopefully they will get the very long prison sentences they deserve, and Mrs. Newcomb should join her husband there.
Laurella Desborough says
My normal reaction to violence against anyone is to consider it WRONG. However, when it comes to animal rights radicals interfering with ANY animal activities, and using drones, etc. I am more inclined to agree with smashing drones and beating the heck out of these animal rights radicals. That is because these animal rights radicals have an agenda that is not necessarily PRO animal as much as it is PRO their anti-animal/anti-animal ownership agenda. These SHARK people are the kinds of individuals that go onto private property and create problems for animal owners. These are the kinds of individuals that have drones that I would be shooting down over my farm property. These animal rights radicals do not belong on private property for any reason.
Merritt Clifton says
Parrot breeder Laurella Desborough appears to be unaware that cockfighting is illegal in all 50 U.S. states and territories, was also illegal in all U.S. states and territories when she was born in 1933, & that what Steve Hindi and SHARK are doing in exposing cockfighters, providing evidence to law enforcement agencies and asking them to respond as the laws decree, is entirely within the scope of behaving as law-abiding citizens.
Further, as the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas just affirmed, Hindi and Adam Fahnestock were never on private property while investigating cockfights held at the Newcomb Game Farm. As ANIMALS 24-7 explained, both Hindi and Fahnestock were on public roads, operating within the FAA rules for using drones.
Inasmuch as parrot breeders have traditionally sought to differentiate themselves from gamecock breeders and cockfighters, it is interesting that Laurella Desborough is now identifying with gamecock breeders and cockfighters.
Laurella Desborough says
Please note that I am NOT in favor of cockfighting. In fact, cockfighters and those roosters when illegally imported from Mexico are most often the cause of Exotic Newcastle outbreaks in poultry farms in the US. I am totally against cockfighting and the use of birds or animals for fighting, including dogs and bears. However, I am also totally against the ILLEGAL outrageous behavior of the animal rights radicals, like SHARK and DXE, where they enter private property and cause mayhem to farm animals. And using drones to fly over hunters and farms is totally wrong. These animal rights radicals are too often given a free pass. They are NOT officials and have NO business doing anything in terms of monitoring anyone with animals. That is the problem. They have no official capacity or authority.
Merritt Clifton says
First, Laurella, name even one “ILLEGAL outrageous behavior” by SHARK in the past 25 years. Name even one instance of either SHARK or Direct Action Everywhere [DXE] causing “mayhem to farm animals.” You can’t, because no such thing has ever happened.
Second, though, lumping the tactics of SHARK and Direct Action Everywhere together is nonsense, since they do completely different things for completely different reasons. SHARK essentially practices investigative journalism, using the same methods and mostly the same equipment as any mainstream TV station, with the difference that SHARK focuses on exposing crimes against animals which, at least on paper, are already illegal but ignored by law enforcement. Those laws are on the books because the majority of elected representatives in the jurisdictions in question responded to the desire of their constituents to enact the laws. Those laws are then not enforced, in the instances that SHARK targets, because of corruption, ineptitude, conflicting priorities, and budgetary issues, in varying proportion, but corruption tends to be predominant. Far from seeking any “radical” change in mainstream values, SHARK time and again merely challenges law enforcement to enforce the laws codifying the existing values of mainstream society.
Direct Action Everywhere also works on behalf of mainstream values, but in a different way. What Direct Action Everywhere mostly does is classical civil disobedience, as defined by the abolitionist Henry David Thoreau in 1849, to illustrate conflicts between what the majority of society purports to believe and what existing law allows. The object is to break the law in a public way, explain why, and accept the consequences, exactly as Thoreau himself did, and as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. did in their causes, times, and places. If and when the public agrees that the cause is just, and impresses that agreement on their elected representatives, the law is then amended to better reflect what has already become mainstream belief.
Private property rights, meanwhile, neither extend into public air space any more than into public streets, and in any event do not trump the laws against committing violence to either humans or animals.
Neither is it a part of U.S. law that only “officials” have “business doing anything in terms of monitoring anyone with animals.” On the contrary, the very design of animal-related law enforcement in the U.S., whether pertaining to anti-cruelty measures or endangered species protection, requires civilian involvement, and very often requires civil prosecution as well.
Steve Hindi says
Laurella Desborough’s website (https://eclectusparrotcentre.com/about/), includes the following statement:
“Laurella Desborough is an aviculturist who is passionate about the health and welfare of all living creatures.”
That statement is in stark contrast to the statement she posted as a comment to the Animals24-7 article:
“…I am more inclined to agree with…beating the heck out of these animal rights radicals.”
Oh well, I guess there are exceptions to every rule.
What I find particularly interesting is this statement about Ms. Desborough on her site:
“Also raised and raced pigeons.”
For some 35 years, SHARK and I have worked to stop live pigeon shoots in numerous states. Although we have enjoyed a great deal of success, our work is not finished, and continues to this day. At no time during those 35 years have I ever encountered, or even heard of Laurella Desborough making any effort whatsoever on behalf of pigeons. I find that to be very telling.
Finally, Ms. Desborough makes this charge:
“These SHARK people are the kinds of individuals that go onto private property.”
Ms. Desborough offers no supporting evidence for this claim because there is none. There was no trespass. Nevertheless, after being corrected once by the Cliftons, she doubled down on her accusation. After a second correction she just shut up.
I invite Laurella Desborough to offer proof of her charge, or offer an apology. To do less is to demonstrate that she is incredble and possibly delusional, although I’d bet those are among the kinder things to be said about her.
I have to laugh each time animal abusers and their supporters impose the term “radical” on those trying to prevent cruelty to animals. If that is true, then thank God for brave radicals like Hindi and many others who seek justice for the innocent and voiceless. It’s no surprise that animal abusers use bully tactics on humans as well as their animal victims.
The sooner the abusers fade out, the better. They clamor about their “rights” at the expense of those who, only until recently, have had no rights whatsoever. To inflict cruelty upon birds or any other animal for the purpose of entertainment must no longer be tolerated.
Karen Davis says
SHARK investigators were NOT on private property but even if they had been, “private property” cannot be treated as a safe haven for abusing animals or for any form of domestic violence. I commend SHARK for their moral courage and investigative perseverance on behalf of the ONLY truly helpless victims: the roosters as well as the hens who are used to “breed” the roosters used in this mentally-diseased, and criminal, human activity.
As for being a breeder of parrots, Laurella cannot be commended. I am very familiar with the parrot trade, which like every other form of animal exploitation is a miserable way to treat our fellow creatures. Most “pet” parrots end up unwanted, neglected, miserable and sick because their buyers lose interest in them once it is clear that parrot cages (in which parrots should not be kept to begin with) have to be cleaned. Parrots being forest dwellers through their evolutionary heritage are loudly vocal and they need to chew wood. None of their natural needs (and rights) can be met in the average parrot-owning household.
Jamaka Petzak says
Agree with poster Mary Finelli and disagree 100% with poster Laurella Desborough. Though I haven’t seen the film “Deliverance,” what I’ve heard about it brings to mind the kind of mindset and cultural backwardness exhibited by these sorry excuses for human beings who are stuck in the past, mired in violence and ignorance, and determined to preserve their time-(dis)honored way of life at any cost.
Sharing with gratitude and hope for the maximum sentences for all of the criminals involved in this violent attack.
Gary Vella says
Desborough’s comment above relies heavily on the label “radicals,” used redundantly (four times) in her paragraph. However, and conveniently enough, the radical (extreme) animal abuse inherent in cockfights is not addressed in her comments. Historically, it has been those concerned citizens who recognize the need for more enhanced protection and consideration of vulnerable populations (e,g., animals, children, disabled) who have led the way to improve social conditions for those groups. Indeed, it was exactly that scenario that brought about the inception of the animal rights movement when activists, seemingly “radical” at the time, would no longer condone the beating of horses in the streets of American cities and towns, a practice that had, until then, been an accepted daily occurrence. If it were not for these leaders of society whose sacrifice and commitment led our culture to a more humane existence, where would we be now? More than likely, we would be at the mercy of those who condone the same level of violence toward protectionists as they do to the animals victimized by the abusers.
Annoula Wylderich says
The only thing that is “radical” in this situation is that there appears to be some corruption among law enforcement officials who enable and protect the (violent) offenders.