Seven members of Alabama family sentenced for cockfighting

Published 2:12 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Seven members of an Alabama family will serve sentences, ranging from probation to two years in federal prison, for running what authorities called one of the largest cockfighting enterprises in the country, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The Department of Justice said the final member of the Easterling family of Verbena, Alabama, was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting. The U.S. Department of Justice said that for more than two years, the defendants held illegal cockfighting events at an arena with stadium-style seating for 150 people.

Prosecutors said participants paid large entry fees — up to $1,500 to fight seven roosters — while spectators wagered on the roosters, which fought with blades strapped to their legs, according to court documents. The defendants also ran two large fighting-bird breeding businesses known as Swift Creek Gamefarm and L&L Gamefarm where thousands of birds were bred and sold to be used in fights, according to court documents.

“As these sentences vividly show, the Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable those who encourage and profit from forcing animals to fight each other for human entertainment,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

George William “Billy” Easterling, 56, was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Brent Colon Easterling, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. William “Tyler” Easterling, 30, was sentenced to 20 months in prison. William Colon “Jim” Easterling, 77, was sentenced to two years of home detention instead of prison because of his declining health

A judge this fall sentenced three other family members to probation for their roles in the fighting and bird-breeding operations.