It’s about time! William Roman pleaded guilty to four felony counts of animal fighting and baiting stemming from one of the largest cockfighting cases in Florida’s history. Back in September 2010, the ASPCA assisted in forensic evidence collection and removal of more than 650 fighting birds from two properties in Lee County.
William Roman and Pedro Lopez, were arrested and charged with multiple counts of animal fighting and baiting, housing distressed animals, and animal cruelty. Lopez was also charged with drug possession. A trial date for Lopez has not been scheduled.
Roman was sentenced to six months in state prison, three years of probation and 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay court costs and cost of prosecution and, as part of the probation, to have no contact with animals for three years.
"These animals were exploited to breed and fight each other to the death," says Adam Leath, the ASPCA’s newly appointed Southeast Director of Field Investigations and Response. "We hope to continue our work in investigating these types of cases to rid the nation of this cruel sport."
A search warrant was executed Tuesday morning for the removal of 676 fighting roosters, hens and chicks from two separate properties in Fort Myers, Florida. The ASPCA, at the request of the Lee County Sheriff's Office and Lee County Domestic Animal Services, is on hand to assist with the removal of the birds, which were voluntarily relinquished by their owners, and to collect forensic evidence for the investigation of a criminal case.
The seizure is the result of an eight-month-long investigation that is still ongoing, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Office. Many of the roosters were allegedly being raised and prepared for fighting, when such birds commonly suffer from punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes, and are fitted with knives and artificial gaffs—long, sharp, dagger-like attachments—to maximize injury.
"Cockfighting is a violent blood sport where the participants—the roosters—don't have choices," said Tim Rickey, the ASPCA Senior Director, Field Investigations and Response. "These birds are forced to be killing machines for entertainment, during which time they die or are left to die a horrible death."