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Ceres Man Pleads Guilty to Running a Cockfighting Business
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 2 years ago on
December 3, 2021

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A 74-year-old Ceres resident pleaded guilty Friday in Fresno federal court to operating a cockfighting and fighting-bird breeding business, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release.

“Our agency has prioritized dismantling animal fighting organizations as we continue to pursue those who would take pleasure and profit in inflicting misery and death upon these defenseless creatures.” — Dusty Cladis, acting special agent in charge, USDA Office of the Inspector General

According to court documents, Joseph D. Sanford bred and sold gamecocks for cockfighting at his central California game farm and also fought his own roosters.

Following the undercover purchase of a trio of fighting game birds, federal agents searched Joe Sanford Gamefarm and found a cockfighting enterprise with nearly 3,000 birds.

In pleading guilty, Sanford admitted to shipping gamefowl inside the U.S. and to Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines for cockfighting.

Sanford is scheduled for sentencing on March 11, 2022. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

‘No Place in Society for Animal Fighting’

“The gruesome act of animal fighting has no place in a civilized society and will not be tolerated,” said Dusty Cladis, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General.

“Our agency has prioritized dismantling animal fighting organizations as we continue to pursue those who would take pleasure and profit in inflicting misery and death upon these defenseless creatures.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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