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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
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Brian McGinn
Phone: 434-295-8672
Fax :  434-293-4910
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Department of Justice
United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Virginia 
United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy

Joint release from Attorney General Mark Herring and U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy...


ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Timothy Heaphy and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced today that Sonya K. Stumbo, age 51, of Floyd County, Kentucky was found guilty on all counts in United States District Court in Abingdon, Virginia. A federal jury deliberated for approximately 40 minutes at the conclusion of a three day trial before finding Sonya Stumbo guilty of one count of conspiring to (a) operate an illegal gambling enterprise and (b) illegally conduct cock fights; five counts of transporting fighting roosters across state lines; and five counts of transporting bird fighting knives across state lines. She faces up to fifty-years in prison and a fine of up to $2.75 million dollars. United States District Judge James P. Jones scheduled Stumbo’s sentencing hearing for October 9, 2014. Sonya Stumbo’s husband, Walter Dale Stumbo, and son, Joshua Dale Stumbo, previously pled guilty to all charges without the benefit of a plea agreement. Two other co-defendants, Wesley Dean Robinson and his son, Jonathan Robinson, previously pled guilty pursuant to plea agreements.


The successful prosecution was the result of a joint undercover operation by Virginia and Federal authorities. Evidence showed that the Stumbos, Robinsons and others organized a large scale and comprehensive cock fighting operation at the Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club (“Big Blue”) in McDowell, Kentucky, which included collecting “parking fees” from spectators, entrance fees from handlers and offering for sale such services as antibiotics for fighting birds, a full-service restaurant for spectators, cockhouses for rental, and fighting gaffes for fighting cocks. The Robinsons transported birds and fighting gaffes from Wise County, Virginia, to Big Blue in Kentucky. On fight weekends at Big Blue, spectators and handlers traveled from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and other states. Spectators and participants were only allowed entry if they held a valid membership card. Each person was charged a one-time fee of $20 for the membership card. Entry fees were as high as $2,000 per entrant. At times, over 400 people attended and paid the $20 “parking fee.” While fights were taking place and after spectators had arrived, Dale Stumbo caused a bulldozer to be placed on the entrance road to the pit. The bulldozer remained in place until the fights concluded. Investigators executed search warrants on May 3, 2014, the second day of a two day derby billed as the “World Championship” and seized over $100,000 in cash from the Stumbos’ home near McDowell, Kentucky.


Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer and Special Assistant United States Attorney and Virginia Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. The case is being investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau of Law Enforcement, and the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, the following agencies assisted in the arrests or related proceedings: Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force; Virginia State Police Tactical Team; Southwest Virginia Regional Task Force; Botetourt County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office; Wise County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office and Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office; Virginia State Veterinarian’s Office; United States Homeland Security Investigations; Kentucky State Police; the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky; and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.