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Old July 27th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Men charged in publication of dog fighting magazine

BELLE VERNON, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Two men were charged with publishing a 10,000-circulation dog fighting magazine that decreed "champions" in the illegal competitions, raising gambling stakes and stud fees, authorities said Monday.

James Jay Fricchione of Westtown, New York, and John Kelly of Jefferson, Georgia, were charged in a grand jury investigation stemming from the 2002 arrests of six people on dog fighting charges in Pennsylvania.

They were each charged with two counts of cruelty to animals and one count each of conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals. In Pennsylvania, cruelty includes promotion of animal fighting. The charges are felonies that carry penalties of up to $15,000 and seven years in prison.

The magazine Sporting Dog Journal, with subscribers around the world, was allegedly run by Kelly until he sold it to Fricchione in 2001, authorities said.

Attorney General Jerry Pappert said the bimonthly magazine contained information on clandestine dog fights, their results and advertisements for puppies, stud services and equipment -- such as treadmills and break sticks used to separate fighting dogs.

The magazine bestowed champion status on dogs that was recognized by the dog fighting public and enabled participants to raise the stakes for wagers and puppy and stud fees, Pappert said.

"Just as the American Kennel Club bestows the title of champion on show dogs, the Sporting Dog Journal would confer the title of champion upon a pit bull that won three fights," Pappert said. Five wins could bring the title grand champion, he added.

The investigation into Sporting Dog Journal grew out of a Pennsylvania State Police probe that resulted in the arrest of six people on charges of holding dog fights throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.

Five were convicted and received probation, including some who participated in the latest investigation, and one is still awaiting trial.

Investigators in Pennsylvania found that some people bet as much as $10,000 on a single fight, and the purse for a night of fighting could be as much as $50,000, Pappert said.

Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Pappert, said Fricchione and Kelly were not in custody as of Monday afternoon.

The magazine, begun in 1972, cost at least $40 for a six-issue annual mail-order subscription. Fricchione used a post office box in Unionville, New York, near his home, authorities said.

Telephone numbers for Fricchione and Kelly were not listed.


Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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