Dog-fighting investigation

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provided this photo of a dog being rescued in April 2016 in Rock Island.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

A Rock Island man was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring in the Quad-Cities.

Sherrick Cornelius Houston, 44, will serve three years of supervised release once he completes his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.

U.S. District Court Judge Sara Darrow also banned Houston from possessing or owning any dogs while he is on supervised release. It’s the same condition she imposed on eight of his co-defendants.

He pleaded guilty June 27 in U.S. District Court, Rock Island, to conspiracy and possessing dogs for participation in a dog fight.

On April 14, 2016, investigators seized 64 pit bull-type dogs from 10 homes in Rock Island and one in Davenport as part of an investigation into a dog-fighting ring that began a year earlier through information developed by the Rock Island Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Quad-Cities Federal Gang Task Force.

The seized dogs were placed into the custody of the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals. Some puppies were born while in the care of the ASPCA. 

No dog-fighting charges were filed immediately following the seizure, but federal prosecutors the next day filed a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of the seized dogs.

More than half of the dogs had to be euthanized because of behavioral or serious medical issues.

Some of the men hosted dog fights in their homes, while others promoted dogs through a short-lived website. Some of the dogs who didn’t make the cut were killed, according to prosecutors.

Many of the dogs that were seized had scars and wounds indicative of organized dog fighting and several of the men had "paraphernalia," such as medical supplies, dog sporting magazines and treadmills in their homes.

Two pit bulls were seized from Houston's home. Prosecutors said the dogs had scarring consistent with dog fighting. One of the dogs had recent, healing wounds, according to prosecutors. Law enforcement seized other items, such as a syringe with attached tubing used for artificial insemination, from the home. 

Prosecutors also say that Houston hosted at least two dog fights in his home around 2011 and allowed one of his co-defendants to record a video in his backyard that showed a pit bull hanging from a “flirt pole” by his jaws.

A sentencing hearing for Houston and eight others began Sept. 21; seven of the men were sentenced Sept. 22. 

 They are:

• Demarlo A. McCoy, 30, of Rock Island, who pleaded guilty July 14 to sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fighting, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

• Ryan M. Hickman, 43, of Rock Island, who pleaded June 13 to possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

• Andre Keywan Lidell, 41, of Rock Island, who pleaded guilty June 13 to sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fighting, was sentenced to 20 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

• Simmeon Terrell Hall, 29, of Rock Island, who pleaded guilty May 22 to sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fighting, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

• Terrill Onterial McDuffy, 44, of Davenport, who pleaded guilty July 12 to conspiracy, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and three years of supervised release.

• Willie Earl Jackson, 35, of Rock Island, who pleaded guilty June 13 to sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fighting, was sentenced to time served and placed on three years of supervised release.

• Jaquan Leontae Jones, 28, of Rock Island, who pleaded guilty May 18 to knowingly attending a dog fight, a misdemeanor, was sentenced to six months in prison, two of which will be spent in a halfway house, and one year of supervised release.

Co-defendant Stantrel Vontrez Knight, 31, of Rock Island, who pleaded guilty May 18 to sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fighting, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

The case against a 10th man, Algerron Lee Goldsmith, 47, of Rock Island, is pending. He is charged with conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting. He has a bench trial scheduled for Nov. 14, according to court records. 

11
5
0
0
0