LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — 17 Kentuckians have been charged with various offenses related to animal fighting and cruelty after four separate indictments were issued by a federal grand jury sitting in London.
In the first indictment, the grand jury charged Cruz Alejandro Mercado-Vazquez, 43, of Maysville, with two counts of attempted bribery and one count of possessing animals for the purpose of having the animals participate in an animal fighting venture.
The indictment alleges that, on two separate occasions, Mercado-Vaquez offered a bribe of more than $5,000, to the Mason County Sheriff, to influence the Sheriff in connection with a planned animal fighting venture. The indictment further alleges that Mercado-Vazquez knowingly bought, possessed, and trained roosters to participate in an animal fighting venture.
In the second indictment, the grand jury charged Rickie Dale Johnson, 55, Jacklyn Rachelle Johnson, 31, Harold “Fuzzy” Hale, 72, all of London, with conspiracy to knowingly sponsor and exhibit animals in an animal fighting venture, in connection with the Bald Rock chicken pit in Laurel County.
The indictment also alleges that Johnson rented property from Hale and, for at least two months in 2021, operated regular animal fighting ventures at that location, with assistance from Jacklyn Johnson.
The following individuals were also charged with exhibiting an animal, specifically a rooster, in the animal fighting venture at the Bald Rock pit:
- Orville D. Asher, 39, of London
- Dallas Cope, 35, of Livingston
- Hiram B. Creech, Jr., 47, of East Bernstadt
- Bradley Cye Rose, 72, of Parkers Lake
- Joshua Westerfield, 36, of London
In the third indictment, the grand jury charged Millard Oscar Hubbard, 72, of Manchester; Timothy Sizemore, 42, of Manchester; Beachel Collett, 28, of Oneida; Lester Collett, 25, of Manchester; and Justin Smith, 33, of Manchester, with one count each of conspiracy to knowingly sponsor and exhibit animal fighting ventures. Sizemore was also charged with knowingly promoting the animal fighting events using instrumentalities of interstate commerce.
The third indictment alleges that, between November 2018 and January 2020, the defendants conspired to operate weekly animal fighting ventures at Riverside Game Club in Manchester. The indictment further alleges that Riverside Game Club was owned and operated by Hubbard. Sizemore, with the assistance of Beachel and Lester Collett, organized the participants into various fights, cataloged 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 various participants. Sizemore allegedly distributed advertising material about the fights, and Hubbard collected admissions fees and had trailers that could be rented to individuals who participated in the animal fighting. It was also alleged that, the defendants paid regular employees, including Smith, to work the fights.
The third indictment further charged Sizemore with one count conspiracy to operate a weekly animal fighting venture at Blackberry Chicken Pit, located in Pike County, Kentucky. It alleges that Sizemore, with the assistance of others, operated weekly animal fighting ventures at Blackberry between May 2020 and December 2021.
In the fourth indictment, the grand jury charged Walter H. Mitchell, 55, of Ewing, Jerrard McVey, 47, and Linda McVey, 42, of Carlisle, with conspiracy to knowingly sponsor and exhibit animals in an animal fighting venture, in connection with the Valley, a chicken pit on the border of Nicholas and Fleming Counties.
Each defendant faces up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Mercado-Vasquez faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the attempted bribery counts.
Any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal sentencing statutes.