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Height: 6-0 Weight: 215 Born: 1/15/71
College: Northern Illinois/ NFL Experience: 6 yrs.
If found guilty, Johnson could get ten years in prison for every
dog linked to his operation -- more than 500 years
Former NFL Running Back Charged In Dogfighting Ring
Monday July 12, 2004 5:54pm Reporter: Bill Mitchell
Holdenville - A dog fighting ring in Oklahoma may be tied to others in Texas and California. There are new developments in the case we've been following for more than a month. Many of the pit bull dogs allegedly belong to former NFL running back LeShon Johnson.
Oklahoma authorities tell us dog fighting is a nationwide problem and has links to gambling and drugs. Investigators from the Oklahoma Vet Board and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agents seized documents tied to the dog fighting ring. Those documents include sales receipts, breeding certificates and fighting schedules.
According to Oklahoma authorities, LeShon Johnson went from a running back in the National Football League to running a major dog breeding and fighting operation here in Oklahoma. Johnson was charged with racketeering and conspiracy in June.
Last week, the dogs allegedly belonging to him were found at relatives homes near Checotah. So far, police have arrested 22 people and confiscated more than two hundred fighting dogs. Most of the 142 pit bulls seized in May have already been euthanized.
"There were three puppies that hadn't been trained and we can get good homes for those," says OBN Spokesman Mark Woodward. "But, the rest, for an adult dog already gone through this type of training to be a dog fighter, it's just too risky."
Woodward says some of the training methods for these fighting pit bulls are inhumane.
"By dumping them in a two to three foot vat of water and just making them fight to stay afloat for two hours to see if they have the endurance, very cruel means of training long before they get into the ring," he said.
Authorities say Johnson has his own website promoting his dogs and their heritage. Woodward says browsers can register, get a password, and see the fighting history of the dogs as well. He says this is big business. Stud fees on the fighting pit bulls start at five hundred dollars. And, the purchase price of a good dog begins at a couple of thousand dollars.
The investigation into the fighting dogs covers five Oklahoma counties. And, authorities are promising more dog confiscations like this one as well as more arrests.
If found guilty, Johnson could get ten years in prison for every dog linked to his operation -- more than 500 years.
S.C. cracks down on dogfighting U.S. Dog-Fighting Rings Stealing Pets for "Bait"
Maryann Mott - for National Geographic News
February 18, 2004
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