TERRE HAUTE —
A Farmersburg man faces multiple criminal charges after being arrested in connection with a cockfighting operation in Vigo and Sullivan counties.
George Piker, 54, appeared in Vigo Superior Court 3 on Wednesday morning where Deputy Ron Steiner of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department detailed the investigation leading to Piker’s arrest.
Steiner stated that on Tuesday, VCSD animal control officer Tim Taylor received information from Piker’s estranged wife that dead animals and animals used in cockfighting could be found at Piker’s residence in the 3500 block of West Indiana 246. Taylor met with a woman at the residence and she showed him caged animals, some dead animal carcasses, fighting spurs, a book on cockfighting, and tickets to record an animal’s weight and identification. Taylor reported that he also saw birds with their combs and wattles dubbed, or removed, in preparation for cockfighting, and some that had their spurs filed down so that fighting spurs could be attached. Taylor also reported finding scales for weighing birds, pens, and bags of assorted animal feed for performance enhancement.
Steiner said that about 90 birds, including peacocks, were found at the residence. Of those, 30 had been altered and were ready for sale as fighting cocks.
After Taylor left the residence, he obtained a search warrant from Superior Court 3, and later returned with other deputies and personnel from the humane society. Authorities found six birds dead in one pen, three other dead birds in individual pens, and 30 other birds prepared for fighting. They also found a grinder used for processing marijuana, with remnants of marijuana and rolling papers.
Deputy Prosecutor Jacob Miller said in court that Piker is facing a potential of 30 criminal charges of possessing an animal for fighting contest purposes, a class-D felony; possession of animal fight paraphernalia, a class-B misdemeanor; possession of marijuana, a class-A misdemeanor; as well as abandonment or neglect of animals.
Judge David Bolk set Piker’s bail at $20,000 with 10 percent allowed. Another hearing for the filing of formal charges is set for Monday morning.
On Wednesday afternoon, several of the animals at the Piker residence, located more than a mile east of Prairie Creek, were removed by authorities and transported to area animal shelters.
Meanwhile, in Sullivan County, investigators there working with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department had arrested Jeffery McMahan, 54, of Sullivan, on Tuesday after police were directed to McMahan’s residence during their investigation of Piker’s residence.
McMahan was arrested on 10 counts of possession of an animal for the purpose of animal fighting, possession of animal fighting paraphernalia, dealing marijuana, and possession of marijuana greater than 30 grams.
He was booked into the Sullivan County Jail with bail set at $100,000 with 10 percent allowed. He was released from jail after posting $10,000 bail.
McMahan has a court hearing set for April 2.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.