Indictments do not mention February 25, 2022 FBI raid in Whitesburg, Kentucky
LONDON, Kentucky––Eight alleged cockfight organizers and five alleged cockfighters were indicted for federal felonies in grand jury indictments issued on February 24, 2022 in London, Kentucky, unsealed on March 1, 2022.
Citing more than a dozen alleged specific dates of cockfights held at various Kentucky locations between November 2018 and July 2021, the indictments hint that a February 25, 2022 raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on an alleged cockpit near Whitesburg, Kentucky and rumored simultaneous raids on other Kentucky cockpits were directed at apprehending the thirteen individuals named in the grand jury indictments.
If that is the case, further indictments of those individuals and others caught in the February 25, 2022 raids are to be expected.
Alleged cockfighters & cockpits already named by SHARK
The indictments opened on March 1, 2022 mostly named people and alleged cockfighting locations already known to ANIMALS 24-7 readers from ongoing coverage of the “Crush Cockfighting” campaign conducted since mid-2019 by the Illinois-based organization Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] with funding from the California-based Humane Farming Association.
Summarized Ralph Davis for Mountaintop Media, in Hazard, Kentucky, “The indictments, detail cockfighting activities in Pike, Clay, and Laurel counties, and accuse several law enforcement officers of taking part.
“In one indictment,” Davis wrote, “Millard Oscar Hubbard, Timothy Sizemore, Beachel Collett, Lester Collett and Justin Smith are all charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Sizemore is additionally charged with a second conspiracy charge, as well as two counts of taking part in an animal-fighting venture.
Alleged cockfighters in Clay County & Laurel County sheriff’s offices
“The Colletts are listed in the indictment as employees of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office,” Davis mentioned.
Jacklyn R. Johnson, named in the other indictment, was a bailiff in the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department until months after Showing Animals Respect & Kindness undercover cameras caught her working security at cockfights.
Sizemore defended cruelty to dogs
Tim Sizemore, described by SHARK as “a well-known, longtime cockfighter,” who allegedly owns and operates the Blackberry Pit near Manchester in Clay County, Kentucky, previously came to the notice of animal advocates for two posts to the American Beagler online discussion forum on March 5 and March 7, 2008.
Opposing proposed reinforcing amendments to the Kentucky anti-animal cruelty law, Sizemore posted first, misspellings and all, “Everybody need to contavt there legistature tell them not to vote the Romeos Law in, if this law passes it will change the law to a class D FELONY if you torture a dog or cat, When we train of dogs beagles, coondawgs, birddogs and any other type of dog you train, if you use shock collars, choke chains or anything in particular they can chrarge you with a class D felony CHARGE. WAKE UP KENTUCKY HUNTERS We need the NRA to help us on this bill.”
Added Tim Sizemore two days later, “About time i get a little support the human society takes small steps then they will keep pushing for more laws, if you shock, kick, use a choke chain to train your dog that is the same thing as cruelty wake up at start calling your senatores and tell them to oppose the bill before it is to late.”
Feds had two cockpits under surveillance ahead of SHARK tip to state
Sizemore and Charles Howard “Magoo” Dixon, alleged manager of the Hawk’s Nest cockpit in Pike County, were subjects of tips forwarded by SHARK to Kentucky State Police commander Colonel Phillip Burnett, Jr. on July 14, 2021.
Explained SHARK founder Steve Hindi to Burnett, “Two illegal cockfighting pits in Pike County are among the largest in Kentucky. Both of these criminal operations are planning on holding illegal cockfights this coming Saturday, July 17, 2021.
“We have repeatedly spoken about these pits with Kentucky State Police personnel at Post 9 in the past,” Hindi said, “but these pits, called Blackberry and Hawk’s Nest, continued their criminal activities as recently as last Saturday.”
Ironically, while the federal indictments did not mention the July 17, 2021 cockfights at Blackberry and Hawk’s Nest, the cockfights at both locations on July 10, 2021 were mentioned, indicating they were under federal as well as SHARK surveillance despite the apparent local indifference.
Riverside Game Club
According to the first of the two federal indictments, “Beginning on a date unknown, but no later than on or about November 2018, and continuing through on or about January 2020, in Clay County, in the Eastern District of Kentucky, and elsewhere, Millard Oscar Hubbard, Timothy Sizemore, Beachel Collett, Lester Collett, and Justin Smith knowingly and voluntarily conspired with each other, and others, to violate laws of the United States,” by “knowingly sponsor[ing] and exhibit[ing] animals in an animal fighting venture.
“It was part of the conspiracy,” the first indictment said, “that Millard Oscar Hubbard owned the Riverside Game Club, located in Clay County, east of the intersection of Phil Young Road and Panama School Road.
“It was part of the conspiracy that Hubbard, with the assistance of Timothy Sizemore, sponsored weekly animal fighting ventures, namely cockfights, at Riverside. The Riverside venue consisted of stadium style seating, storage areas under the seating for storing live birds, enclosed cockfighting pits, a concession stand, two areas for weighing birds, a room for selling animal fighting accessories and two additional side pits for fights.
“Using an instrumentality of interstate commerce”
“The defendants,” charged the indictment, “also collected parking, admission, and seating fees, sold concessions, and rented trailers and utilities to more than one hundred individuals who participated in and attended the animal fighting ventures. The defendants, and others, maintained security at animal fighting events,” which “routinely drew participants from the Eastern District of Kentucky and other states,” crossing state lines to attend.
That participants crossed state lines brought the cockfights under federal jurisdiction.
“At the fights,” the first indictment detailed, “Timothy Sizemore, with the assistance of Beachel Collett and Lester Collett, organized the participants into various fights, catalogued the entry fees, the weight of the roosters, tracked the weapons used on the animals, arranged the fights, and tracked the wins and losses of the various participants.
Further, the first indictment said, “Timothy Sizemore and others distributed advertising material about the fights including distributing the animal fighting schedule using an instrumentality of interstate commerce.”
“Throughout the conspiracy,” the first indictment mentioned, “Hubbard collected admission fees, sold concessions, and had approximately 142 trailers that could be rented to individuals who participated in the animal fighting ventures.
“Throughout the conspiracy, the defendants paid regular employees, including referees and kitchen staff, including Justin Smith, who worked the fights.
“Throughout the conspiracy,” the first indictment continued, “Hubbard and Timothy Sizemore split the proceeds on the animal fighting ventures between them.”
Continuing on from discussion of the alleged activities at the Riverside location, the first indictment adds that, “It was part of the conspiracy that, in concert with the owners and operators of Blackberry, Timothy Sizemore organized and sponsored weekly animal fighting ventures, namely cockfights, at Blackberry.
“Extensive security operations”
“The Blackberry venue,” the first indictment detailed, “consisted of stadium style seating, storage areas for storing live birds, one main enclosed cockfighting pit, a concession stand, one area for weighing birds, a room for selling animal fighting accessories, an announcer booth, and four additional side pits, also known as drag pits, for fights” continued among roosters who were already crippled so badly in the main pit as to no longer provide entertainment, but with winners still in doubt.
At Blackberry, the first indictment charges, “Timothy Sizemore and others organized the collection of admission fees, and sold concessions, merchandise, and sharp instruments for use in animal fighting to individuals who participated in and attended the animal fighting ventures.
“The animal fighting venture at Blackberry was maintained with extensive security operations,” the first indictment notes, “including two checkpoints for attendees.”
The first indictment mentioned at least a dozen dates on which cockfights were held, apparently under observation by federal agents.
In the second indictment, defendants Rickie D. Johnson, Jacklyn R. Johnson, and Harold “Fuzzy” Hale were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, while Orville D. Asher, Dallas M. Cope, Hiram Creech Jr., Bradley Cye Rose and Joshua Westerfield were charged as alleged actual cockfighters.
“Beginning on a date unknown, but on or about May 10, 2021 and continuing through on or about July 10, 2021, in Laurel County, and elsewhere,” said the second indictment, “it was part of the conspiracy that Rickie D. Johnson rented property off of Loretta Lane, in Laurel County, from Harold ‘Fuzzy’ Hale, and operated regular animal fighting ventures at the location as Bald Rock Chicken Pit.
“Harold ‘Fuzzy’ Hale had previously operated an animal fighting venture at the same location, called ‘Big H’s,’ up until March 2020,” recounted the indictment. “Rickie D. Johnson had previously assisted with operating an animal fighting venture called C.J.’s Cockfighting Piet, located on New Salem Road in London, Kentucky.”
Netted $7,000 from just one cockfighting card
“It was part of the conspiracy that Rickie D. Johnson, with the assistance of Jacklyn R. Johnson, sponsored regular animal fighting ventures, namely cockfights, at Bald Rock,” the second indictment states.
“The Bald Rock venue consisted of stadium style seating, storage areas for storing live birds, one central enclosed cockfighting pit, additional side pits for fights, a concession stand, an area for weighing birds, and a station for sharpening animal fighting instruments.
“The Defendants also collected admission fees and sold concessions to the individuals who participated in and attended the animal fighting ventures.”
A cockfighting card allegedly organized and managed at Bald Rock by Rickie D. Johnson and Jacklyn R. Johnson on July 10, 2021, the second indictment said, attracted 47 entries and 80 spectators, “raising approximately $7,000.”
Will sheriffs be busted?
Said a Showing Animals Respect & Kindness email to supporters, “Two years ago we could have chosen to nibble away at the fringes of cockfighting in other areas. We could have gone where it would have been easier. Instead, we chose to strike relentlessly at the very heart of the monster, where we had to deal not just with criminal cockfighters, but corrupt, dangerous police who protect them, like Laurel County sheriff John Root and Clay County sheriff Patrick Robinson.”
“The last couple of years have been more difficult than we have let on,” Showing Animals Respect & Kindness said, “but our efforts showed federal authorities how extensive cockfighting is in Kentucky, and now they have taken action!”