Maurice Baum, 37, and Desmond White, 35, will be sentenced in August after pleading guilty to federal charges of using the money from crack cocaine sales to pay for a dog fighting operation.
The two Elizabeth City, NC, men plead guiltyto conspiring to distribute cocaine and conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute crack cocaine. . Baum also pleaded to charges involving the possession and distribution of powder cocaine.
Both men were arrested in February after a two year investigation and plead guilty to using proceeds from their illegal drug activity to buy dogs and supplies for training dogs to fight.
Don Connelly, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman, says both men face a maximum sentence of life in prison when they're sentenced in August.
In February, officers seized at least 80 dogs in Pasquotank, Camden and Perquimans counties WITN reports.Authorities said it was one of the largest dogfighting rings ever discovered in the region.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 28 years now and I’ve never seen anything [like this],” Sheriff Randy Cartwright told WVEC News. “It’s a tough situation,” said Cartwright. “A lot of them have broken bones, hips messed up or skulls cracked, but they save them because they are good for breeding".
Lititia Butts and Ladonna Price were later arrested for aiding and abetting dog fighting.
The plea agreement on the federal charges didn’t impact the separate state charges for dog fighting, said District Attorney Frank Parrish.
John Goodwin, Director of Animal Cruelty Policy for The Humane Society, states that this investigation began as a federal drug case.‘But, as is often the case, the drug investigation turned up evidence of a large dog fighting operation.”. HSUS assisted in the raids and providing care for the dogs, he said.
“Dog fighting almost always goes hand in hand with other crimes, like drug and illegal gun sales. This case demonstrates that eradicating this cruel blood sport is important for both animals and humans. It draws the most despicable criminals into unsuspecting communities where families and children can also become victims of violence,” he added.
The dog fighting charges were brought at the state level under North Carolina law, and subject to a separate trial. The drug charges were brought at the federal level. “These defendants are facing a lot of time in prison—possibly the rest of their lives,” Goodwin said.