Two Wise Countians and two men from eastern Kentucky have pleaded guilty in U.S. district court to operating a cockfighting operation on the Kentucky side of the border.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia announced the pleas Thursday.
Jonathan Robinson, 33, of Wise County, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to operate an illegal gambling enterprise, one count of conspiring to illegally conduct cockfights, one count of transporting fighting roosters across state lines and one count of distributing oxycodone.
Robinson was given a plea agreement, according to the U.S. attorney’s press release. He faces up to 35 years in prison and a fine up to $1.75 million. Robinson is to be sentenced Oct. 8.
His father, Wesley Dean Robinson, 57, of Wise County, pleaded guilty in mid-June to the same charges, along with one count of transporting bird fighting knives across state lines.
Wesley Robinson also has a plea agreement. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $750,000. Robinson is to be sentenced Aug. 27.
Walter Dale Stumbo, 52, and son Joshua Dale Stumbo, 25, of Floyd County, Ky., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to operate an illegal gambling enterprise and one count of illegally conducting cockfights; five counts of transporting fighting roosters across state lines; and five counts of transporting bird fighting knives across state lines.
Neither man has a plea agreement. Each man faces up to 55 years in prison and a fine of up to $2.75 million. The Stumbos are to be sentenced in October.
Sonya Stumbo, 51, of Floyd County, Ky., is set to go to trial Aug. 4.
According to evidence presented in court, the Robinsons, the Stumbos and others conspired to have cockfights at the Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club in McDowell, Ky. The operation included collecting “parking” fees from spectators and entrance fees from handlers, and offering for sale services including antibiotics for fighting birds, a restaurant for spectators and fighting gaffes for birds.
The Robinsons transported birds and fighting gaffes from Wise County to Big Blue.
Spectators and handlers traveled from Virginia, North and South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and other states. They were required to show a membership card to enter, costing $20, and paid a $20 “parking fee.”
The club had about 5,000 members.
Entrance fees typically were $250 per entry, with 40 to 80 entries per event. While events were taking place, a bulldozer would be placed on the entrance road to block entry.
Arrests took place May 3, the second day of a two-day event billed as the “world championship,” with entry fees of $2,500. Officers seized more than $90,000 in cash at the Stumbos’ home.
OTHER WISE COUNTIANS
Also charged in May in association with the cockfighting raid were Philip Albert Meade, 54; Tammy Carol Meade, 47; Jeffery A. Meade, 40; and Russell Peaks, 38, all of Pound.
The Meades each were charged with manufacturing, transporting or selling an alcoholic beverage while armed and with possessing or transporting untaxed alcohol. Philip Meade also was charged witth marijuana possession, and Jeffery Meade was charged with selling alcoholic beverages without a license. Peaks was charged with distribution of a Schedule III drug.
However, all of their charges have been rendered “nolle prosequi,” meaning they were withdrawn but prosecutors reserve the right to reinstate them.
Wise County assistant prosecutor Mike Abbott explained Monday that the Meades’ alcohol charges involve moonshine. The charges are expected to be placed again by indictment next month, he said.
Peaks had been a fugitive since early May and was caught June 29 near Jenkins, Ky. He faces charges in Kentucky and Virginia, and authorities are sorting out where he will be prosecuted first, according to Abbott, who said he is not directly involved in the Peaks case.