A Buffalo man convicted for the third time of crimes associated with dog fighting received the maximum sentence of one and a third to four years in prison when he appeared Monday in Erie County Court.
After his release, Edward “Boo” Bishop must wait 10 years before he can own a dog or have any dogs on his premises, Judge Thomas P. Franczyk ordered.
Bishop, 54, originally faced seven counts of animal fighting, one for each dog found at his Hewitt Street residence during a raid in April 2014 that was part of a wider crackdown on dog fighting.
In January Franczyk found Bishop guilty of one count of felony animal fighting, based on the “fighting” condition of one of the dogs found at the house.
On Monday, Franczyk elaborated on his ruling, mentioning that several of the other dogs confiscated bore scars and injuries consistent with dog fighting, and a number of items found in the home made it clear what was going on.
“This was not just the Shady Rest retirement home for old fighting dogs,” the judge said.
The judge noted the police found stacks of hay bales inside and outside the house. Hay bales are often used to construct dog fighting rings.
“One would expect to see that amount of hay on a farm but not at a residence in the city of Buffalo,” Franczyk said. “It would indicate something more was going on here.”
This was Bishop’s fourth felony conviction. His other offenses include robbery in the 1980s and two other animal-abuse convictions.
Justin T. Wallens, chief of the District Attorney’s animal cruelty unit, asked for the maximum sentence.
“He’s been on parole, he’s been on probation and that hasn’t worked,” Wallens said.
Wallens also pointed out the dogs found in Bishop’s house were in such bad condition that five of the seven were euthanized.
Nicholas Hicks, Bishop’s attorney, followed with a vigorous defense of Bishop’s behavior. The case has been in the courts for almost two years, Hicks said, because Bishop maintained and continues to maintain that he is innocent of the dog fighting charges. Hicks accused the SPCA and Buffalo Police department of sloppy investigative work – which he noted led to suppression of much of the evidence – and accused them of “stacking” charges to see what would “stick.”
Hicks asked for leniency.
“He’s not some young thug,” Hicks said. “He’s a family man. He takes care of his grandchildren on weekends. I think he is a good candidate for probation. It may not satisfy the SPCA. It may not satisfy those people marching up and down and calling for his life. It does satisfy justice.”
Before pronouncing the sentence, Franczyk referred to Bishop’s 2010 federal conviction for sponsoring an animal for dog fighting. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years supervised release in that case.
Less than two years after that, he was arrested again.
“It seems that you never left it,” the judge said. “Unless you live on a farm or live in some mansion it is unusual to have so many dogs in one place unless something else is going on.”