Stafford Man Convicted in Federal Court for Role in Dog Fighting Ring

dog fighting convictionIn Alexandria, Virginia, a disturbing case of animal cruelty has reached a significant milestone as Mark Joseph Rodriguez, 45, of Stafford, was convicted by a federal judge on a charge related to engaging in an illicit animal fighting venture. The conviction stems from activities spanning from May 2015 through August 2020, involving Rodriguez and other individuals across Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. These individuals utilized a private messaging app group, known as “The DMV Board” or “The Board,” to orchestrate dog fights, share training methods, and even discuss ways to dispose of dogs that lost in fights.

The group, hidden from the eyes of law enforcement, was a hub for arranging dogfights and disseminating related content, including methods to evade police detection. Rodriguez, identified by a co-conspirator as “the most recognized ref on the East Coast,” played a pivotal role in these operations, frequently overseeing fights and sharing outcomes and refereeing decisions within the group.

This case highlights a larger network of individuals involved in the cruel practice, with six of Rodriguez’s co-defendants recently pleading guilty to similar charges. These include Eldridge Jermaine Jackson, Larry Alston, Bashawn Allen, Dandre Patrick Wallace, Isacc Jermaine Weathersby, and Charles Edward Davis Jr., all facing sentencing in the upcoming months. This series of convictions underscores the extensive efforts by law enforcement to dismantle networks dedicated to animal fighting, an endeavor that has seen several other participants sentenced to prison terms.

Rodriguez now faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, with his sentencing scheduled for July 2. The case, prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Jessica D. Aber, and investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office, illustrates the ongoing battle against animal cruelty and the commitment to holding those responsible accountable.


Share on Social Media