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Cockfighting ring participants receive shorter sentences

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- A Page County cockfighting ring participant successfully lobbied to get a shorter sentence.

But, it wasn't a huge reduction -- just one month, according to online court records.

Charles Leo Kingrea, 62, of Gordonsville, was sentenced in October in U.S. District Court to 12 months -- with six months in prison and the remainder on house arrest -- for conspiracy to engage in an animal fighting venture or gambling related to cockfighting, conspiracy to sell or transport knives to be used in cockfighting and serving as a principal who aided a gambling operation tied to cockfighting.

Last Friday, he saw the prison portion shortened to just five months.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with part, but not all, of Kingrea's grounds for an appeal of the verdict.

The indictment against Kingrea left out the words "an animal" in the conspiracy count, which just said he conspired to sponsor or exhibit an animal fighting venue, rather than he conspired to sponsor "an animal" in such a venue.

That element was "essential," the appeals court ruled, and vacated the verdict and sentence for that count, and ordered that the charge be dismissed, and Kingrea resentenced for the other counts.

The appeals court's opinion notes that another defendant cited the omission in a filing several months before Kingrea's trial, but "for reasons not apparent in the record, the government did not seek to obtain a superseding indictment" correcting the error.

According to court records, Kingrea had been attending the Page County cockpit, Little Boxwood, for more than three decades and had been selling supplies, including small knives for the birds there for five years.

Also on Friday, Kingrea's codefendant, Dale Edward Moreland, 53, of Winchester, was given a shorter sentence -- at the request of the prosecution.

He was sentenced in October to 18 months in prison for conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business and animal fighting venture and money laundering.

The government filed a motion last month for Moreland's sentence to be reduced because of his help in prosecuting a related cockfighting case, according to court records.

Moreland's new sentence is a three-year period of probation, with 11 months of that time to be served in a work-release center.

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