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One by one the dogs underwent extensive behavioral analysis. In one trial the pit bulls were presented with lifelike stuffed-animal replicas of various dog breeds. Some reacted with indifference. Others revealed how vicious they had become.
In one court document, prosecutors describe how a dog that belonged to Derrick Courtland, one of Addison's Backstreet Truez partners, "would not release the stuffed dog even when presented with food. A pan was struck with a stick near her ear, and when one of the handlers tried to pry her teeth away from the stuffed dog with a break stick, she was unsuccessful. [The dog] required a second handler to pry her mouth, with some blood shed, off of the stuffed animal's face."
In the end roughly half of the 500 pit bulls passed the tests and found new homes. The rest were put down.
To date, 17 of the 26 suspects arrested in the 2009 raids have pleaded guilty and are serving time in federal prison. Authorities netted an additional 34 convictions in state courts and 18 more at the federal level in the cases of dogfighters who were arrested or charged in the weeks following the July bust. Eighteen cases are pending in U.S. District Courts.
Altogether, the investigation targeted 107 suspects. Eleven of those escaped prosecution on misdemeanor charges of spectating at a dogfight because the probe extended beyond the statute of limitations. Two men were tried, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges unrelated to dogfighting. One was deported.
Among those currently incarcerated are Bacon, sentenced to 16 months, and Addison, who got two years.
In an interview at his family's home in Washington Park a few weeks after the sentencing, Bacon questions the lengths to which investigators were willing to go in order to put him and his cohorts behind bars.
"It's like they broke the law to get what they wanted," Bacon says. "They were actually in the box with blood on them, fighting dogs. They was in knee deep. They're no better than the ones who got convicted."
Asked to back up his claims, Bacon provided Riverfront Times with three DVDs marked with the seal of the U.S. Department of Justice. The discs contain four digital recordings that depict Bacon, the investigators and several other individuals fighting dogs, touring a kennel and discussing dog weights in advance of a fight. Bacon says he was able to obtain copies of the undercover footage because he represented himself pro se during a portion of his trial. (Bacon also provided a sealed letter from the Humane Society to the court; all other documents cited in this story are public records.)
A father of six, Bacon has a round baby face that prompted his grandmother to nickname him "Dumpling," later shortened to "Dump." At trial he testified that he dropped out of high school a few months shy of graduation and made a career out of rehabbing houses. In 2002 he founded a rap label called Lock 'Em Down Records. The venture went sour in 2007 when his cousin and co-CEO Dewanzel "Jazz" Singleton pleaded guilty to felony cocaine-conspiracy charges. (For more see "Lock 'Em Down, Lock 'Em Up," in the January 9, 2008, issue of Riverfront Times, available online.)
Bacon says he took good care of his dogs and provides a copy of a recent vet bill to prove it. (He paid the $118 tab in cash and used an alias.) He says dogfighting is viewed differently in his community, that the lives of animals are not valued the same as those of humans. But again and again he returns to the question of how the authorities can justify their dogfighting exploits while condemning him for his.