Ceres Gamecock Breeder Indicted on Animal Cruelty Charges
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Thursday, Dec. 12 against Joseph D. Sanford, 72, of Ceres, charging him with offenses involving cockfighting, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
Sanford was arrested at his place of business this morning and will be arraigned in Fresno at 2:00 p.m. today.
According to court documents, Sanford is charged with conspiring to violate the Animal Welfare Act, unlawfully possessing animals for an animal fighting venture, and unlawfully selling animals for an animal fighting venture. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of thousands of game fowl at his business, Joe Sanford Gamefarm.
According to court documents, Sanford is the owner and operator of Joe Sanford Gamefarm, a 10.26 acre property in Ceres, where he breeds and sells gamecocks for cockfighting. Sanford also fights his own roosters. Following an undercover purchase of a trio of fighting birds, law enforcement officers searched Joe Sanford Gamefarm, where Sanford resides, and found a large cockfighting enterprise consisting of 2,956 game fowl. It is alleged in the indictment that Sanford was involved in the interstate shipments of game fowl. It is also alleged that Sanford acquired and maintained medical equipment, such as scalpels, syringes, thermometers, and medications for conditioning roosters and surgically altering them by removing their wattles, combs, spurs and other body parts.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG); the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the IRS Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Marshal Service; Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Forest Service; the Humane Society of the United States; the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office; the Placer County Animal Services, and the El Dorado County Animal Services. The Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice also lent assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Sanford faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine as to each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Not the first time, BUT Lord, you can bet it won't be the last, the tip of the iceburg. You see all the agentcies lined up to help prosecute Mr. Sanford. Who is is lining-up to help him. If you doc a pup's tail, have the ears trimmed. If you show your O.E. Games, or trim the spurs, and own a game fowl of any sort . You will be in violation of this indictment. Once, this law goes into affect, what more radical ones will follow!