Saturday, July 29, 2017

Former Leader Of New York Chapter Of “United Gamefowl Breeders Association” Charged With Animal Welfare Offense For Cockfighting Venture

Thomas Carrano charged with conspiring to raise, train, and sell roosters for cockfighting

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bethanne M. Dinkins, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (“USDA-OIG”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that THOMAS CARRANO self-surrendered today in connection with an indictment charging him with conspiring to possess, sell, and transport roosters for purposes of participation in animal fights around the United States. The defendant was arraigned today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker and the case has been assigned to the Honorable Deborah A. Batts.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Thomas Carrano masqueraded as a gamefowl enthusiast, going so far as to become the leader of an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting birds. But in fact, as alleged, Carrano was heavily involved in the cruel ‘sport’ of cockfighting. Thanks to the investigative work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the NYPD, Carrano’s alleged inhumane practices are over.”
Special Agent-in-Charge Dinkins said: “The provisions of the Animal Welfare Act were designed to protect animals from being used in illegal fighting ventures, which often entail other forms of criminal activity involving drugs, firearms and gambling. Together with the Department of Justice, animal fighting is an investigative priority for USDA-OIG, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in animal fighting ventures.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]
Cockfighting is an activity in which two roosters are put forward to fight one another for sport and entertainment. The roosters typically have metal spurs, known as gaffs, or plastic spurs, known as “postiza,” affixed to their legs for use in the fight. The fights between roosters are ended when one rooster is dead or refuses to continue to fight. If not killed during the fight, the losing rooster is typically killed afterwards. Roosters involved in cockfighting will often be mutilated in preparation for fights, typically by cutting off the rooster’s comb and wattle and shaping the rooster’s spur.
From January 2012 up June 2017, THOMAS CARRANO, a member and former leader of the New York chapter of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association (“NYUGBA”), conspired with others—including a co-conspirator in the Bronx, New York—to buy, sell, transport, and receive roosters for cockfighting. CARRANO used two social media accounts—one in his own name, and one in the NYUGBA’s name —to communicate with co-conspirators, including members of the NYUGBA and others that were located in the Southern District of New York. In a 2014 newsletter to its members, the NYUGBA stated that “We DO NOT promote cockfighting in any way.” Yet in messages sent through these social media accounts, CARRANO discussed breeding and training roosters for cockfighting, the sale and purchase of gaffs and postizas for cockfighting, and CARRANO’s personal participation in cockfighting.
On May 23, 2017, law enforcement personnel executed a search warrant at CARRANO’s gamefowl farm in Ontario, New York. During the search, law enforcement officers discovered, among other things, gaffs, postizas, shears for dubbing roosters, a rooster sparring dummy, a specialized ladder used to train fighting roosters, steroids, and videos of roosters being trained for cockfights. In addition, law enforcement officers recovered approximately 104 chickens, including 19 adult roosters and 12 adolescent roosters. More than three-quarters of the male birds had their comb, wattles, and/or earlobes removed. In addition, more than a third of the roosters had at least one of their natural spurs altered.
CARRANO, 44, of Ontario, New York, is charged with one count of conspiring to sell, possess, and transport animals for purposes of participating in an animal fight, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the USDA-OIG and NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad, and thanked them for their ongoing support and assistance with the case. Mr. Kim also thanked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for their assistance in this case.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

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