ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today a Forestville, Maryland, man pleaded guilty to conspiring to engage in dogfighting.
According to court documents, from at least May 2015 through August 2020, Laron Mecco “Frog” West, 46, and other conspirators from Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, used a messaging app private group, which they generally referred to as "The DMV Board" or "The Board," as a place where they and their associates could discuss training fighting dogs, exchange videos about dogfighting, and arrange and coordinate dog fights, away from the view of law enforcement authorities. Members of The DMV Board also used the messaging app to compare methods of killing dogs that lost fights, as well as to circulate media reports about conspirators who had been caught by law enforcement and discuss methods to minimize the likelihood that they would be caught themselves.
According to court documents, in June 2017, West posted on the DMV Board that “we kill” fighting dogs that quit. In October 2018, West posted on the DMV Board that dogs that failed to fight aggressively enough had been killed. West wrote that he “loves to throw [the dogs] over the bridge and into the water.”
Court documents further reflect that, in March 2018, West drove coconspirator Charles Edward Williams, III, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, to a warehouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Williams entered his dog into a dogfight attended by dozens of people. In November 2018, Williams warned members of the DMV Board to be sure to confirm the death of the dogs that they try to kill upon losing a fight.
In April 2019, Williams and coconspirator Michael Roy Hilliard, 37, of Fort Washington, drove to Bunnlevel, North Carolina, with a dog belonging to Williams, so that he could enter the dog in a dog fight. The fight lasted less than 10 minutes before being won by the dog belonging to Williams. An unindicted conspirator shot and killed the dog that lost the fight.
In August, West, Williams, Hilliard, and four others were indicted for a dogfighting conspiracy involving the “DMV Board.” Earlier this month, Williams and Hilliard pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy as West. Trial for three of the remaining defendants is set for December 6.
West, Williams, and Hilliard are each scheduled to be sentenced on February 21, 2023. Each faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.
Significant assistance was provided by The U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina Stam and Gordon Kromberg are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-154.
USAO - Virginia, Eastern;Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
Department of Agriculture OIG