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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Plead Guilty in Multi-State Dog Fighting Prosecution

New Jersey and Chicago-Area Defendants Convicted As Part of Operation Grand Champion


Four defendants pleaded guilty today and yesterday to federal charges for their roles in an inter-state dog fighting network spanning from New Mexico to New Jersey, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Acting United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey William E. Fitzpatrick.  A fifth defendant pleaded guilty in June.  U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton accepted the following pleas:
  • Anthony “Monte” Gaines, 36, of Vineland, New Jersey, a/k/a “Whiteboy,” pleaded guilty yesterday to two felony counts of conspiracy to buy, sell, receive, transport, deliver, and possess dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture. 
  • Lydell Harris, 32, of Vineland, New Jersey, a/k/a “Sinn,” pleaded guilty yesterday to one felony count of conspiracy to sponsor or exhibit a dog in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture. 
  • Frank Nichols, 40, of Millville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of conspiracy to transport, deliver and receive dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture, and one felony count of possessing a stolen firearm subsequent to a felony conviction. 
  • Pedro Cuellar, 47, of Willow Springs, Illinois, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of conspiracy to transport, deliver, and receive dogs intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
  • Mario Atkinson, 42, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on June 15, 2017 before Judge Anne E. Thompson in U.S. District Court in Trenton to one count of sponsoring or exhibiting a dog in an animal fighting venture, and one count of possessing a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture.
Nichols and Harris pleaded guilty to indictments. Gaines, Cuellar, and Atkinson were charged with Bills of Information.  Charges remain pending against four defendants.