McDowell family charged in cockfighting case

Ralph B. Davis rdavis@civitasmedia.com

May 6, 2014

McDOWELL — Federal authorities are alleging that Floyd County was host to a multi-state cockfighting ring.

Three members of a local family were among five people charged in the federal cockfighting case.

Authorities have accused Walter Dale Stumbo, his wife, Sonya Stumbo, and their son, Joshua Stumbo, all of McDowell, with operating a cockfighting arena known as the Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club. They, along with Wesley Dean Robinson and his son, Jonathan Robinson, both of Pound, Va., are each charged with one count of sponsoring an animal in an animal-fighting venture and one count of taking part in an illegal gambling business.

The five were charged as the result of an extensive undercover investigation beginning in February 2013 and ending last month. The investigation began with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which was looking into the illegal manufacture of untaxed liquor and noticed a connection to the animal fighting culture.

The investigation led authorities to send two undercover investigators to Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club on numerous occasions for more than a year. During the course of their probe, they obtained numerous observations, as well as recorded audio and video evidence.

The operation drew participants and spectators from Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Tennessee, with millions wagered on the outcome of battles between gaming roosters, often to the death. Birds killed in the fights were tossed into a barrel, although investigators noted several instances of critically-injured birds being tossed away with the dead animals.

The Stumbos appeared in U.S. District Court, in Pikeville, on Monday, where their case was transferred to Abingdon, Va. That court has since sealed the case, pending the outcome of a grand jury review.

All five appeared in U.S. District Court, in Abingdon, on Tuesday. They were released on unsecured $10,000 bonds.