Five Charged With Running Dog-Fighting Ring

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – Five men were arrested and more than 150 dogs seized in a five-state dog-fighting sting. Federal prosecutors say the men ran dog-fighting ventures and kennels where they trained pit bulls to fight, and routinely and inhumanely destroyed or abandoned pit bulls who lost fights or weren’t aggressive enough.

     Prosecutors say Michael Morgan, Robert Hackman, Teddy Kiriakidis, Ronald Creach and Jack Ruppel ran the dog fighting operation from January 2008 through June this year.
     “Forcing a dog to fight to its death is not a sport,” said John Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s St. Louis office. “There is nothing respectable about encouraging two animals to torture and dismember each other. Individuals who participate in dog fighting claim to care for the animals, but they don’t hesitate to electrocute their helpless dog once it loses a fight and can no longer provide any financial benefit.”
     Morgan, aka Missouri Mike, 38, of Hannibal, Mo., was indicted on two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and one felony count of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures; Hackman, 55, of Foley, Mo., faces two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures; Kiriakidis, aka Teddy Bogart, 50, of Leasburg, Mo., faces one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; Creach, 34, of Leslie, Mo., was indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; and Ruppel, 35, of Eldon, Mo., two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures. Each count is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
     Prosecutors seek ownership of the dogs and wanted them placed with the Humane Society of Missouri. They also seek a court order requiring the defendants to reimburse the Humane Society of Missouri for costs of care for the dogs.
     Twenty-one others have been charged in separate cases resulting from the same investigation in the Western District of Missouri, Southern District of Illinois and Eastern District of Texas.

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