Two men plead guilty in Laurel County cockfighting case

The initial charges came after a KSP investigation of animal cruelty claims at the Bald Rock Chicken Pit in 2021

LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Two men charged in connection to a cockfighting operation in Laurel County pleaded guilty, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The report says 55-year old Rickie D. Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiring to operate Bald Rock Chicken Pit in Laurel County.  He could receive up to five years in prison.

The report says the facility had stadium seating, storage areas, a central fighting pit, side pits, concessions and a station to sharpen metal gaffs attached to birds’ legs during fights.

Johnson was accused of operating the venue with his daughter, 30-year old Jacklyn R. Johnson, a former court bailiff with the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office; Harold “Fuzzy” Hale; and Oakley “Whitey” Hatfield, according to the report.

Hale allegedly owned the property and leased it to Rickie Johnson and Hatfield helped negotiate the lease, according to the report.

When Kentucky State Police went to the venue in July 2021 to investigate alleged animal cruelty, there were at least 80 people in the arena and 47 roosters entered in fights, according to the report.

47-year old Hiram B. Creech, Jr. pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of causing someone under the age of 16, his son, to attend the cockfight, according to the report.  He could get up to three years in prison.

Jacklyn Johnson, Hale and Hatfield and four men charged with having roosters for the purpose of engaging in a cockfight have pleaded not guilty, according to the report.

In February, federal indictments were returned against 15 people accused of being involved in cockfighting at arenas in Laurel, Clay and Pike counties and a venue on the border of Nicholas and Fleming counties, according to the report.

Additional indictments were handed down against more people.  Cruz Alejandro Mercado-Vazquez, of Maysville, was accused of offering more than $5,000 in bribes to Mason County Sheriff Patrick Boggs to get protection for a planned cockfighting operation, according to the report.



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