A federal judge sentenced two Kansas City, Kan., men Wednesday for their roles in a multistate dogfighting ring.
Pete Davis Jr., who prosecutors say led the operation, received a 16-month sentence, and Melvin Robinson was sentenced to 10 months.
U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia also ordered the men to pay almost $431,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for the care of 48 dogs seized from Davis and Robinson.
Each was banned from owning dogs for three years after being released from prison. Each also must perform 50 hours of community service work.
Some of the animals they trained have proved to be too aggressive for the animal rescuers who now care for them, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tristram W. Hunt told the judge.
“Many will have to be destroyed,” Hunt said. “They cannot be adopted.”
Murguia announced the sentences Wednesday after hearing arguments from lawyers and statements from defendants at two hearings Sept. 23.
Davis and Robinson pleaded guilty in June to a single count each of transporting dogs to participate in animal fighting.
“What I did was wrong,” Davis told the judge in September.
Robinson, who had no prior criminal history and cooperated with authorities after his arrest, described his own involvement in dogfighting as a “mistake” and said his involvement has turned into a “nightmare” for his family.
“I can give you my word, I will never be involved in this situation again,” Robinson said. “I take full responsibility.”
Hunt asked for longer sentences for both men than those called for under federal sentencing guidelines because of the brutal conditions in which the dogs lived. At a farm in Harrison County, Mo., where some fights took place, authorities found dogs chained to the ground and left to the elements. At least one died of exposure.
Such cruelty is typical of the crime, Hunt said.
“It’s a blood sport,” Hunt said. “It’s barbaric.”
Defense lawyers asked for guideline sentences below Hunt’s requests, saying the guidelines already took the nature of the crime into account.
Davis and Robinson were charged in March after the FBI followed them to a Texas dogfight. Agents raided the event and seized 77 dogs, most of them pit bulls, and six chickens. Court records said the men owned dozens of dogs, training them on a treadmill at Robinson’s Kansas City, Kan., home. Caged chickens often were placed in front of the dogs to bait them, court records said.