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Cheektowaga Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty Charges Following Dog Fighting Investigation

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 24-year-old James A. Jackson of Cheektowaga pleaded guilty yesterday before Erie County Court Judge James Bargnesi to all eight counts in the indictment against him: 

  • Three counts of Prohibition of Animal Fighting (Class “E” felonies under New York Agriculture and Markets Law)
  • Four counts of Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals; Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance (Class “A” misdemeanors under New York Agriculture and Markets Law)
  • One count of Prohibition of Animal Fighting, Possession, Sale or Making of Animal Fighting Paraphernalia (Class “B” misdemeanor under New York Agriculture and Markets Law)

An investigation began after the Cheektowaga Police Department received an anonymous tip regarding dog fighting on April 12, 2022. The next day, SPCA Serving Erie County investigators executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence on Andrews Avenue in the Town of Cheektowaga. Investigators recovered evidence common in dog fighting operations inside and outside of the home. Three dogs, found in the basement and first-floor of the residence, were seized. The remains of two deceased dogs were recovered from the backyard. 

The defendant admitted that he trained three pit bull mixed breed dogs, two males and one female, under circumstances evincing an intent for the dogs to engage in animal fighting and intentionally depriving the dogs of food and medical treatment. 

Jackson also pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge Bargnesi to one count of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony) in a separate case. On May 30, 2023, at approximately 7:29 p.m., Buffalo Police officers stopped the defendant after witnessing him fail to stop his vehicle at the intersection of Genesee Street and Floss Avenue. The defendant, who had a suspended driver’s license, drove off when asked by the officers to exit his vehicle. After causing a collision with another vehicle nearby, the defendant exited the vehicle and attempted to run from police, but was quickly apprehended. During the investigation, a loaded, illegal handgun was found inside of the defendant’s vehicle behind the driver’s seat. The gun was submitted into evidence for further testing. He was linked to the illegal gun through DNA evidence. 

Jackson faces a maximum of 7 years in prison when he is sentenced on both files on Monday, June 3, 2024 at 9:30 a.m. Prosecutors requested that the Court remanded the defendant pending sentence on the gun case, but his release under supervision was continued. The charges against a co-defendant who was also indicted for their alleged role in the dog fighting case will be dismissed after the sentencing proceeding. 

“This defendant used cruel methods to train these dogs to become dangerous animals. This case highlights the tragedy of these underground, illegal activities. I want to thank the SPCA Serving Erie County for their work in this case and other animal cruelty investigations,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.

DA Flynn commends the SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Investigations Officer Lindsey Wood, SPCA Senior Investigator Bill Heine, Cheektowaga Police Officer Joshua Katashuk, Town of Cheektowaga Dog Control Officer Aaron Kandefer and the Buffalo Police Department for their work in these investigations. 

The dog fighting case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Christine M. Garvey of the Animal Cruelty Unit. The gun case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jia-Chir Chiu of the Felony Trials Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Anthony Perna of the Narcotics/Intelligence Bureau.