Damiane Buehrer, 40, of North Adams, Michigan, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for his role in a dog fighting conspiracy based in the surrounding counties of Grand Rapids, Michigan, by U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney yesterday. His prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release.
Buehrer pleaded guilty in June 2018 to one felony count of conspiracy to sponsor and exhibit a dog in a dog fight and unlawful possession of dogs intended to be used for the purpose of dog fighting. The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew Byerly Birge of the Western District of Michigan made the announcement.
“Damiane Buehrer and his codefendants participated in a sick and brutal underground activity that, because of its interstate and international nature, is subject to Federal criminal jurisdiction” stated U.S. Attorney Birge. “Because of the uniquely barbarous and cruel nature of this activity, my Office, along with the rest of the West Michigan law-enforcement community, is committed to investigating, punishing and deterring criminals like Buehrer and his coconspirators.”
Buehrer and four co-defendants were indicted in a superseding indictment on April 18, 2018, for one conspiracy count and multiple counts of unlawful possession of animals intended to be used for the purpose of dog fighting. The remaining co-defendants, including Charles Joseph Miller, Kian Maliak Miller, Charles Deon Davis Jr., and Jarvis Jason-Roy Askew, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Between November 14, 2016, and December 7, 2017, as part of the conspiracy, Buehrer acquired and kept four dogs for the purposes of breeding, training, conditioning, and developing dogs for participation in dog fighting. The dogs, together with those owned by his co-conspirators, for a total of 37 dogs, were seized by law enforcement as part of the investigation. Buehrer was also found to possess medication for the purpose of treating dogs for wounds received during dog fighting, as well as equipment for training the dogs, including treadmills, weighted chains, break sticks, spring cables, flirt poles, and a jenny mill. The co-defendants frequently exchanged electronic communications for the purpose of sharing information about training and conditioning dogs for fighting, breeding fighting dogs, contracting for and sponsoring dog fights, collecting forfeited funds when a contracted dog fight resulted in a forfeit, and sharing results of dog fights.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Zell and Hagen Frank, and Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Blackwell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Ingham County Animal Control Office. The ASPCA assisted with the care of the dogs seized by federal law enforcement.