7 members of Alabama family sentenced in federal bust

Prosecutors announced Wednesday that seven members of an Alabama family will serve sentences ranging from probation to up to two years in federal prison for what they called “one of the largest cockfighting operations” in the country.

The Justice Department said the last member of the Easterling family of Verbena, Alabama, was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting. For more than two years, the defendants allegedly conducted illegal cockfights in a stadium-style amphitheater with seating for 150 people.

Prosecutors said participants paid large entry fees — up to $1,500 — for seven cockfights, according to court documents, and spectators bet on the cocks, which had blades tied to their legs.

“Participants were told which weapons should be attached to the legs of the chickens, such as short knives, long knives or spurs,” prosecutors said.

According to court documents, the defendants ran two large fighting-bird breeding businesses, known as Swift Creek Gamefarm and L&L Gamefarm, where thousands of birds were raised and used in fights.

Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said, “As these sentences clearly show, the Justice Department will hold accountable those who encourage animals to fight each other for human entertainment.” do and make a profit.”

George William “Billy” Easterling, 56, was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Brent Kolan Easterling, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. William “Tyler” Easterling, 30, was sentenced to 20 months in prison. William Collen “Jim” Easterling, 77, was sentenced to two years of home detention instead of prison due to his declining health.

“The court determined that the illegal conduct involved animal fighting on an ‘extraordinary scale’ and imposed sentences that reflected the unusual cruelty of a business model relying on the death or injury of thousands of birds for entertainment and profit,” prosecutors said. Huh.”

A judge this fall sentenced three other family members — Kasi Brooke Easterling, 39, Amber Nicole Easterling, 25, and Thomas Glynn “Junior” Williams, 34 — to probation for their roles in the fighting and bird-breeding operations. Heard.

“The US Department of Agriculture Inspector General (USDA-OIG) actively investigates allegations of animal abuse and any associated gambling activities,” said Jason Williams, Special Agent in Charge, USDA-OIG. “This agency has made animal fighting a high priority to demonstrate that these egregious acts of cruelty to animals will not be tolerated.”

Earlier this year in Southern California, officials broke up a large cockfighting incident and said they were About 150 chickens were forced to euthanize,

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