More Convictions in Kentucky Cockfighting Bust

There is more good news regarding a multijurisdiction cockfighting case first reported in the fall 2015 AWI Quarterly. The case focused on the Big Blue Sportsman’s Club in eastern Kentucky, where cockfights had been held for more than 20 years. In 2014, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the US Department of Justice prosecuted five defendants for cockfighting and a variety of other crimes, securing prison terms for all of them. Since then, another four individuals have been convicted for crimes related to this investigation: Jimmy Crate Willis of Clintwood, Virginia, received probation and fines for conspiracy to knowingly sponsor and exhibit an animal in an animal fighting venture. Russell Peaks, who raised birds for fighting in Wise County, Virginia, received a 24-month jail term for allowing a minor to attend a cockfight, distributing hydrocodone, and conspiring to facilitate cockfighting. In March 2017, Big Blue owners Shirley Ray Slone and Vernon Kelly Slone pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to cause others to attend a cockfight. In addition to forfeiting $100,000, they were required to pay for the destruction in May of the club’s facility. On June 8, both were sentenced to one year’s probation.

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