Judge sends James V. “Bub” Newcomb II to prison, throws out Shannon Clark plea bargain
IRONTON, Ohio––Sentenced on November 10, 2021 for assaulting Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] founder Steve Hindi and SHARK investigator Adam Fahnestock, James V. “Bub” Newcomb II, 54, of Waterloo, Ohio, left the Lawrence County Courthouse in Ironton on his way––probably––to serve from four to six years in the state penitentiary.
Newcomb indicated intent to appeal his conviction, leaving open the possibility that the appellate court will grant him a stay of execution while the appeal is in progress.
Newcomb was also fined $5,000, Hindi told ANIMALS 24-7 by telephone from just outside the courtroom after the sentencing hearing.
A closed circuit television clip of the sentencing confirmed the details.
Newcomb was convicted on November 5, 2021, after a two-day jury trial, of one count of felonious assault for using his pickup truck to ram Fahnestock’s car, running it off the road into a deep ditch; one count of felony theft for causing the loss or destruction of a SHARK drone, the drone controller, and miscellaneous camera equipment; and one count of misdemeanor assault for beating Hindi.
“I didn’t do it” says perp of offenses caught on video
Lectured by Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrew Ballard about the importance of showing remorse as a factor in sentencing, and then asked if he had anything to say, Newcomb said only “I didn’t do it.”
Newcomb and co-defendant Shannon Clark were caught by SHARK hidden cameras in the act of attacking Hindi and Fahnestock on January 3, 2021.
Newcomb and Clark, both much bigger and younger than Hindi, charged Hindi moments after Hindi launched a drone from the public access to Newcomb’s property to investigate an alleged cockfight which was believed to be already underway.
The SHARK investigation was part of a nationwide campaign against cockfighting funded by the Humane Farming Association.
Newcomb was videotaped knocking the drone controller out of Hindi’s hand and smashing it first against his own mailbox, then against the car Fahnestock was driving. Both Newcomb and Clark then allegedly participated in throwing Hindi to the ground, kicking and beating him repeatedly, threatening to kill him, and then assaulting and beating him again, minutes later, on another public road about a quarter mile away.
Clark turns down three years in prison; will stand trial
Clark had been offered a suspended sentence by the prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Newcomb, but saw his plea bargain rejected by Judge Ballard.
Describing Clark’s testimony as of little value in securing Newcomb’s conviction on multiple counts, Judge Ballard told Clark that violent offenses of the severity of those for which Clark and Newcomb were indicted would require jail time.
Judge Ballard indicated that he had not been informed of the Clark plea bargain in advance of the Newcomb trial, both Hindi and SHARK investigator Janet Enoch told ANIMALS 24-7.
Rejecting a three-year prison term as part of a new plea bargain, Clark left the courthouse facing a two-day trial on November 29-30, 2021 for second degree felonious assault on Hindi, Enoch said.
Clark was originally indicted by a Lawrence County grand jury on February 23, 2021 on the felonious assault charge plus one count each of fifth degree felony theft, and one count of felonious evidence tampering.
Hindi back in action despite threats
Hindi left the Lawrence County Courthouse, after delivering his victim impact statement in person, to investigate a report that a pigeon shoot was soon to begin in a neighboring state.
Hindi drove out of Ironton watching his rear view mirror all the way because of threats issued against him on social media.
A Facebook user self-identified as Renfro L Kenneth had on October 26, 2021 posted to James Newcomb’s wife Beckie Newcomb’s page, “One shot is all it takes.”
Added a Chad Micheal, “Back in the 70s they take um out. Problem solved.”
Judge sends message that thuggery no longer rules the roost
But Judge Ballard seemed determined to send a message to Newcomb, Clark, and other alleged cockfighters that thuggery no longer rules the roost in Lawrence County, one of several Ohio counties bordering Kentucky that have long been suspected of harboring cockfights funded in part by interstate drug trafficking, car theft, and other forms of organized crime.
James and Beckie Newcomb, both with prior convictions related to marijuana trafficking, raised gamecocks and formerly operated an automotive junkyard on their property. They closed the junkyard after James Newcomb was indicted for assaulting Hindi and Fahnestock.
Clark has multiple priors for offenses including having assaulted a former police officer who had once arrested him, after a chance meeting in an Ironton bar.
Governor DeWine once took cockfighting seriously
Ohio governor Mike DeWine, a Republican elected in 2019, has so far showed little sign of making enforcement of state laws against cockfighting a priority, but he did once, during his tenure from 2011 to 2019 as Ohio attorney general.
DeWine appeared to be particularly concerned about the association of cockfighting and drug trafficking with violence against humans after four members of the Wagner family shot eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families, related by marriage.
The killings were committed just before dawn on April 22, 2016 at three rural homes near Piketon, Ohio, about 50 miles straight north of Ironton.
DeWine spokesperson Eve Mueller told media that “Evidence consistent with cockfighting was found” at one of the murder scenes, including caged gamecocks, and that marijuana “grow operations” were found at all three.
The killings turned out to have originated from a custody dispute between Edward “Jake” Wagner, 28, and Hannah Mae Rhoden Gilley, 19, one of the victims, with whom “Jake” Wagner wrongly believed he had fathered a child.
Edward “Jake” Wagner pleaded guilty to all eight murders on April 22, 2021, and was sentenced to serve eight consecutive life terms without parole, plus 100 years on fifteen additional charges.
His mother Angela Wagner, 51, pleaded guilty on September 10, 2021 to conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, plus multiple counts of aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, and other charges, as part of a plea bargain contingent upon her testimony against the other defendants.
Charges against two of the other alleged killers, George Wagner III and George Wagner IV, remain pending.
Rita Jo Newcomb
Rita Jo Newcomb, 66, whose relationship if any to the Newcombs of Waterloo is unknown, on December 3, 2019 pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury that was investigating the case.
Explained Scott Jennings of WTVN, “Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner, mother-in-law of George Wagner the Third, and grandmother of George Wagner IV and Edward “Jake” Wagner, the four charged with first-degree murder in the killings.
“Newcomb,” Jennings added, “was originally accused of forging custody documents connected to ‘Jake’ Wagner, who allegedly had a child with one of the victims. Investigators later determined Wagner was not the father of the child in question.”