Advanced Cock Fighting Investigations and Prosecutions

September 19, 2019
1:00pm - 2:00pm

This webinar will focus on how to do an advanced investigation into cockfighting operations. The speaker will focus on state police flyovers, wildlife cameras, surveillance, and other techniques to make a successful cockfighting investigation. Using drug taskforces already in place, he trains them to know what a gamefowl farm looks like. Our investigator will explore how all the players are involved in an organized pit and how you can utilize relatives to make cases against the perpetrator. He will also explore how to questions cockfighters and get the most out of an interview.


Presenters:

Richard Samuels has been a deputy in the Spotsylvania County (Virginia) Animal Control Division of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office for the last 19 years. He has investigated over 200 animal fighting cases — 100 of which were cockfighting investigations. For two years, Richard worked undercover as a cockfighter, witnessing over 2,000 fights. His experience in the field has enabled him to testify as an expert witness on cockfighting numerous times in the Commonwealth and federal courts.

Michelle Welch is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.  She is the Director of the Animal Law Unit at the Attorney General's Office.  She is charged with taking all animal law questions in Virginia.  She is called on by agencies all over the Commonwealth to act as a special prosecutor in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases.  Ms. Welch has also been appointed a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia to aid in animal fighting prosecutions.

Ms. Welch frequently gives advice to law enforcement authorities and prosecutors all over Virginia, the nation and internationally.   She trains prosecutors, animal control and law enforcement officers on the state of Virginia animal law and testified before a U.S. Congressional Caucus examining the enforcement of animal laws and the cooperation between state and federal partners.  She is a speaker at many conferences including Virginia Animal Control Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys’ National Animal Cruelty Conference.