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October 25, 2007

Dogfighting kingpin(?) cooperates and may avoid any prison time

I wonder how folks outraged by dogfighting feel about this news that a fellow who helped Michael Vick set up his dogfighting operations appears likely, because of cooperation with authorities, to avoid any prison time.  Here are the basics:

Dogfighter Oscar E. Allen admitted to ties with suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels and pleaded guilty yesterday to the same dogfighting conspiracy charge as Vick.  Allen, 67, of the Williamsburg area, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of illegal gambling and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of five years.  However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Gill said he will recommend to the judge no incarceration for Allen at his sentencing Jan. 25. His plea agreement requires cooperation with authorities. Judge Henry E. Hudson won't be bound by that recommendation or by the federal sentencing guidelines....

In making his guilty plea, Allen admitted in a signed statement that starting in 2001 he gave Vick and his associates advice about running a kennel.  Over the years he sometimes took part when Bad Newz Kennels hosted dogfights at Vick's Surry County house, where Bad Newz Kennels was located.  He also traveled with members of the Vick operation to some arranged fights in other states.  Not long after the kennel started up in 2001, Allen sold it some American pit bull puppies to be used for dogfighting.  One of the puppies, a female named Jane, became a "champion" for Bad Newz Kennels in 2003 by prevailing in three dogfights.

Allen also admitted he was at the Surry County property in April when Vick and two of Vick's co-defendants -- associates in the dogfighting operation -- tested dogs by forcing them to fight each other. Allen said he did not participate in the subsequent killings of eight dogs that did not measure up.

Though I am not sure from these facts if it is entirely fair to describe Allen as a "dogfighting kingpin," but the analogy to a drug kingpin seems apt given that Allen played a major role in making Vick's dogfighting operation a reality.  Also, according to his lawyer, Allen "has participated in dogfighting, has at times owned fighting dogs and has been a breeder of fighting dogs."

Of course, as those involved in large federal drug prosecutions know, it is not unusual to see cases in which drug dealing kingpins are able to trade information in order to get shorter sentences than less the mules involved in the operation.  So, even if Allen is justifiably considered a dogfighting kingpin, that fact alone won't ensure he gets a sentence as severe as Michael Vick.

Some related Vick posts:

October 25, 2007 at 09:46 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I am a criminal defense attorney and am appalled that anyone who has pled guilty in this dogfighting ring would not serve any jail time. I am also the proud owner of three shelter (rottweiler/chow) dogs. In my opinion, society should be more worried about people who fight dogs than people who use drugs. And I have never had a client in federal court on a drug case who did not receive jail time. Dogfighting should have mandatory minimums.

Posted by: Susan Gentle | Oct 25, 2007 10:10:37 AM

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