NJ considers tougher penalties for involvement in dogfights

Tougher penalties may be on the way for those involved with staging dogfights in New Jersey.

A bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean would add dogfighting to the list of crimes that can be prosecuted under the state’s anti-racketeering and organized crime statues.

“Dogfighting is really only the most visible, most violent, most painful example of how these individuals cross state lines, cross town lines, whether it be through gangs, whether it be through other criminal activity, to use this violence to make a profit,” said Kean, R-Union.

Those arrested at dogfights are often released on probation, said Union County Prosecutor Grace Park. The threat of higher penalties could convince them to cooperate with authorities in tracking down the operators of dogfighting rings, she said.

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“A guy who’s on the street and basically facing probation, he’s not to help us get into the enterprise that he’s a part of,” said Park. “And if you have a secondary crime involved. and it being part of the RICO statue, it would help tremendously in gaining leverage for prosecutors.”

Illegal activity is rampant at dogfights because people bring large amounts of cash to make bets and carry guns to protect their money, she said.

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