Animal Rights Advocate Convicted of Cockfighting
NEW YORK- A supposed animal rights activist who claimed he was working to stop cockfighting was in fact running a cock fighting enterprise.
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that THOMAS CARRANO was convicted by a unanimous Manhattan jury of conspiring to possess, sell, and transport roosters for purposes of participation in animal fights around the United States. The defendant was convicted after a five day trial before the Honorable Sidney H. Stein.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Thomas Carrano, the leader of an association that claimed to ‘not promote cockfighting in any way,’ was convicted of that very thing. Carrano cared not a whit for the welfare of the roosters he raised, sold, and transported for participation in the cruel and inhumane ‘sport’ of cockfighting. Thanks to the ASPCA and our law enforcement counterparts, justice has come home to roost for Thomas Carrano.”
The evidence at trial showed, among other things, the following:
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 president 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 and to buy, sell, and transport cockfighting weapons.
CARRANO used two social media accounts – one in his own name, and one in NYUGBA’s name – to communicate with co-conspirators, including members of NYUGBA and others who were located in the Southern District of New York.
The NYUGBA claimed to be devoted solely to breeding rare gamefowl for poultry shows. 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, cockfighting supplements, 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, many of which had their natural spurs, combs, wattles, and/or earlobes removed.
CARRANO, 44, of Ontario, New York, is convicted of one count of conspiring to sell, possess, and transport animals for purposes of participating in an animal fight, which carries a maximum penalty of five 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. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and the New York City Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad, and thanked them for their ongoing support and assistance with the case. Mr. Berman also thanked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this case.
The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison G. Moe and Michael C. McGinnis are in charge of the case.
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