DUBLIN, GA: Three of seven defendants have admitted in court to participation in a dog-fighting operation broken up in 2018 in Dodge County.
Benjamin Shinhoster III, 41, of Augusta; Deveon Hood, 34, of Tennille, Ga.; and Andre Archer, 23, of Sandersville, Ga., entered guilty pleas today [Wednesday, May 26] before U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr., said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. Shinhoster pled guilty to Sponsoring and Exhibiting a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture, while Hood and Archer each pled guilty to Conspiracy. Each of the charges carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison, with substantial financial penalties and up to three years of supervised release after completion of any prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Along with our law enforcement partners, our office is committed to eradicating these animal fighting operations that are nothing more than organized contests of cruelty,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Such barbaric activities will continue to find an intensely unwelcoming environment in the Southern District of Georgia.”
Sentencing dates for Shinhoster, Hood and Archer have not yet been set.
The lead defendant in the investigation, James Lampkin, a/k/a “Pookie,” 46, of Eastman, Ga., awaits trial on charges of Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Welfare Act; and 63 counts of Possessing and Training a Dog for Purposes of an Animal Fighting Venture, related to the 63 dogs seized March 17, 2018, on his property where a federal indictment alleges dog fights were taking place. The charges all are felonies, each carrying a statutory penalty upon conviction of up to five years in prison. Lampkin also is charged with Attending an Animal Fighting Venture, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. Also charged and awaiting further legal proceedings are:
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The investigation began in response to reports of a dogfighting operation when Georgia State Patrol troopers and Georgia Department of Natural Resources game wardens conducted traffic stops in Eastman, discovering a dog in one of the vehicles that appeared to have been injured while fighting. The 63 dogs later were seized at Lampkin’s residence after investigators serving a search warrant found the animals chained in the back yard.
While the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated a civil forfeiture action, an animal rescue operation took custody of the dogs.
“This investigation and prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those individuals who traffic in inflicting pain and suffering on animals,” said Jason Williams, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General. “We appreciate the commitment of our federal partners in pursuing these purveyors of death who operate and find entertainment in animal fighting ventures.”
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Rock.
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