DOJ: Largest cockfighting operation in U.S. ended after 7 family members sentenced
VERBANA, Ala. (Gray News) – Seven members of a family in Alabama were sentenced Tuesday for their involvement in operating a large-scale cockfighting operation.
According to the Department of Justice, seven people in the Easterling family pleaded guilty to illegal conduct involving animal fighting on an “exceptional scale” on Aug. 5. The sentences imposed on them were determined to reflect the “unusual cruelty of a business model that relies on the death or injury of thousands of birds for entertainment and profit.”
The DOJ said illegal cockfighting events were held at the cockfighting pit, an arena with stadium-style seating for about 150 people. Multiple cockfighting pits and several outbuildings, which included a stand for selling merchandise, were included.
The illegal activities involved cockfights in which two or more roosters fought each other. The birds were equipped with sharp blades attached to their legs, the release said.
The purpose of the fights was for sport, wagering and entertainment, officials said. Participants paid expensive fees to enter birds in the derbies and were told what weapons to strap to their legs, which included short knives, long knives or spurs.
The DOJ said 77-year-old William Colon Easterling dismantled and destroyed the entire cockfighting operation as part of his plea agreement.
Members of the Easterling family also ran Swift Creek Gamefarm and L&L Gamefarm, two large fighting-bird breeding businesses. At these locations, officials said thousands of birds were bred and sold to be used in the cockfights.
The DOJ said the Easterling family members helped run one of the largest cockfighting enterprises in the country for years. William Colon Easterling even recruited his granddaughter, Amber Easterling, to sell weapons used by the birds in the cockfights at the merchandise stand.
Officials said Brent Easterling ran L&L Gamefarm with his wife, Kassi Brook Easterling, and was one of the most widely known fighting bird breeders in the country. They sold fighting birds for $1,500 a bird.
Brent Easterling also helped his father, William Easterling, operate the fighting-bird business known as Swift Creek Gamefarm, where they employed their in=law, Thomas Glyn Williams, along with others to main the birds.
Those sentenced include:
- George William Easterling, 56, was sentenced to 22 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.
- Brent Colon Easterling, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.
- William Easterling, 30, was sentenced to 20 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.
- William Colon Easterling, 77, was sentenced to two years of home detention rather than incarceration, due to his declining health, and an $8,000 fine.
- Kassi Brook Easterling, 39, was sentenced to two years of probation, including six months of home detention.
- Amber Nicole Easterling, 25, was sentenced to one year of probation.
- Thomas Glyn Williams, 34, was sentenced to one year of probation.
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