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 pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Rock Island, in connection with a large-scale dog-fighting ring in the Illinois and Iowa Quad-Cities that dates back to at least 2011.

Sherrick Cornelius Houston, 44, will be sentenced Sept. 21 on charges of conspiracy and possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting. Each charge is punishable by up to five years in federal prison.

He will be back in court July 12 on his motion for a bond review.

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 of Cruelty to Animals.

A day after the seizure, federal prosecutors filed a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of the dogs.

Houston and nine other men were indicted in January.

Co-defendants Stantrel Vontrez Knight, Simmeon Hall, Willie Jackson and Andre Lidell pleaded guilty earlier this year to sponsoring or exhibiting dogs in dog fighting.

Ryan Hickman pleaded guilty to possessing dogs for participation in dog fighting. Another co-defendant, Jaquan L. Jones, pleaded guilty to attending a dog fight, a misdemeanor.

They also will be sentenced Sept. 21.

Two more men, Demarlo McCoy and Terrill McDuffy, have plea hearings on July 14 and July 12, respectively.

Another man, Algerron Goldsmith, will be tried Aug. 14.

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