In a startling revelation, a Department of Defense (DoD) communications official, Frederick Douglass Moorefield Jr., has been charged with allegedly operating a dogfighting ring for many years, in which thousands of dollars were wagered on brutal canine matches. The charges have been brought by federal prosecutors in Maryland.
Mr. Moorefield, 62 years old, hailing from Arnold, Maryland, had held the position of Deputy Chief Information Officer for Command, Control, and Communications. His affiliation with the DoD spanned 11 years, according to information gleaned from his LinkedIn page and an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
The prosecution alleges that Moorefield and another individual, Mario Damon Flythe, 49, from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, employed encrypted messaging applications to strategize the training of dogs for illegal dogfighting, coordinate the dogfights, place bets on the matches, and discuss the grim fate of dogs that had lost their lives in these cruel battles.
Under the aliases "Geehad Kennels" and "Razor Sharp Kennels," the affidavit, authored by Special Agent Ryan C. Daly of the F.B.I., claims that Moorefield and Flythe conducted their dogfighting operations. Furthermore, they sought advice from others across the United States on how to conceal their activities from law enforcement.
The affidavit suggests that Moorefield had been involved in dogfighting for approximately two decades. An informant referred to in the document mentioned participating in a dogfight against one of Moorefield's dogs around 2009. As per the affidavit, Moorefield had contacted his associates in the dogfighting community, canvassing for contenders to set up additional fights.
Special Agent Daly revealed records under the name "Geehad" dating back to 2002 that indicated the ownership of fighting dogs by Mr. Moorefield and others in the dogfighting circles.
Both Moorefield and Flythe are facing charges that include buying, selling, delivering, possessing, training, or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture. They are also charged with using the postal service or other interstate means to promote or further an animal fighting venture and participating in a conspiracy to sponsor or exhibit animals in an animal fighting venture. If found guilty, they could each face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for certain charges. The two accused individuals made appearances in federal court in Baltimore and have been released pending trial.
Notably, on September 6, law enforcement executed search warrants at the homes of Moorefield and Flythe, resulting in the recovery of 12 dogs, veterinary steroids, training schedules, a carpet stained with blood, a dog vest bearing the "Geehad Kennels" patch, and an electrical plug with jumper cables, an item historically associated with executing dogs that failed in dogfights.
Furthermore, court documents reveal that Anne Arundel County Animal Control responded to a report in November 2018 regarding the discovery of two deceased dogs with injuries and scarring indicative of dogfighting, found in a plastic bag roughly six miles from Moorefield's residence. The bag also contained mail addressed to Moorefield.
The Pentagon has released a statement acknowledging awareness of the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. However, they declined to comment further on the matter, describing it as an individual personnel issue.
These charges are the result of evidence collected from August 2022 indictments of seven other defendants linked to chat groups using secure messaging apps named "the DMV Board" or "the Board." These groups were employed to organize dog fights. Six of the defendants have pleaded guilty to charges connected to dogfighting.
Dogfighting, a cruel "sport" involving the breeding of dogs for aggression and forcing them to fight for the amusement and profit of spectators, is a severe form of animal abuse. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (A.S.P.C.A.) states that hundreds of thousands of dogs are forced to endure training, fights, and suffering each year.
In 2019, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act became law, classifying intentional acts of animal cruelty as federal crimes punishable by up to seven years in prison. While federal law had previously banned sponsoring animal fights, the 2019 legislation was introduced to enable prosecutors to address cases of abused animals that cross state boundaries.
Stacy Wolf, a senior vice president at the A.S.P.C.A., emphasized the importance of this case in revealing the prevalence of dogfighting. Strengthening dogfighting laws is commendable, but there is still much work to be done, as law enforcement is less inclined to investigate and intervene when unsure if animal protection agencies can bear the cost and burden of caring for seized animals. She noted that dogfighting poses public safety risks and is often associated with criminal activities such as illegal gambling and the possession of drugs and firearms.