By Melinda Miller
News Staff Reporter
After 16 months in and out of court, a Buffalo man with a prior federal conviction for dog fighting has been found guilty again of engaging in felony animal fighting.
Edward “Boo” Bishop, 53, of Hewitt Street originally faced seven counts of animal fighting, one for each dog found at his residence during a raid in April 2014. The raid, involving six locations and resulting in 20 dogs being seized, involved Buffalo Police and investigators from the SPCA Serving Erie County and the ASPCA as part of a crack-down on dog-fighting in the region.
In September, Judge Thomas P. Franczyk suppressed some of the evidence gathered during the raid, ruling that it was outside the parameters of the search warrant.
A nonjury trial on the remaining indictments, prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nathanael C. Kapperman and with Nicholas W. Hicks representing Bishop, concluded in December. At that point, the judge dismissed three counts of the indictment based on evidence that three of the dogs in question showed no physical signs of having been in fights or of being trained to fight.
On Monday, Franczyk issued a verdict convicting Bishop of one count of the indictment, involving a single dog that was confiscated during the raid. The judge ruled that prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Bishop was guilty on the remaining counts.
In issuing his decision, Franczyk wrote that, although all the remaining dogs showed evidence that they likely had been in fights at some point in their lives, all but one was not “conditioned” for fighting at the time of the raid.
“The injuries only indicate that they were former fighting dogs” who were being housed at Bishop’s home, the judge wrote, and did not prove that Bishop was training them to fight.
One dog, however, “had many earmarks of a dog recently trained to fight,” the judge wrote, “including significant muscle mass, definition and apparent ‘gameness’ for fighting, as evidence by his rapid, silent, aggressive and jaw clenching take down” of a fake dog in a video of the animal presented in court.
That dog also had scarring on its face, was missing part of an ear and had fractured incisors, testimony showed.
Franczyk also noted Bishop’s prior conviction for sponsoring a dog in a fight for profit. In 2010, Bishop was sentenced to 30 days incarceration and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty in federal court to sponsoring an animal in a fight. It was reported at the time that Bishop entered his dog in dog fight on June 2009 and won about $4,000.
Bishop, who has been free on bail since his arrest, faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced before Franczyk on Feb. 17.