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      Missouri Mike pleads to dog fighting charges

      The following is a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis, Missouri;

      St. Louis, MO: Four men pleaded guilty in federal court today for their roles in a dog-fighting conspiracy and selling dogs for fighting purposes, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today. A fifth man pleaded guilty last week to the same charges in the Western District of Missouri.

      According to the facts filed with the court at time the pleas, between January 2008 and June 2009, Michael Morgan, Robert Hackman, Teddy Kiriakidis, Ronald Creach and Jack Ruppel were involved in animal fighting ventures and dog fighting competitions. They established and ran various kennel operations to purchase, breed, train, condition, and develop Pit Bull Terriers for participation in the animal fighting ventures, Robert Hackman operated Shake Rattle and Roll Kennel, Jack Ruppel operated Ozark Hillbillys Kennel, Michael Morgan a/k/a Missouri Mike operated Cannibal Kennel, and Ronald Creach operated Hard Goodbye Kennel.

      Each defendant admitted that they routinely inhumanely abandoned, destroyed, and otherwise disposed of Pit Bull Terriers that lost fighting competitions, did not perform aggressively enough, or that became injured, wounded, or disabled as a result of participating in an animal fighting ventures.

      By pleading guilty, all defendants have agreed to forfeit to the government all of the animals, money, weapons, animal fighting paraphernalia, property and assets seized by law enforcement officials during their investigation.

      The U.S. Attorney also filed motions seeking to take legal ownership of the dogs and place the animals in the care and custody of the Humane Society of Missouri. Under federal law, the government can take custody of any animals engaged in any animal fighting venture.

      Michael Morgan, a/k/a Missouri Mike, 38, Hannibal, MO, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and one felony count of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures;

      Robert Hackman, 56, Foley, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and one felony count of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures;

      Teddy Kiriakidis, a/k/a Teddy Bogart, 50, Leasburg, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; and

      Ronald Creach, 34, Leslie, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses.

      Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. Sentencing has been set for December 2, 2009 for each defendant.

      Jack Ruppel, 35, of Eldon, pleaded guilty Friday, September 4, before U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Knox in Jefferson City.

      Reap commended the work on the case by the Missouri State Highway Patrol , the Humane Society of Missouri, the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Drake, Charlie Birmingham and Julie Wright who are handling the cases for the U.S. Attorney TMs Office.

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