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Antelope Valley Couple pleads guilty in dogfighting operation

December 1, 2011 | 12:56 pm

An Antelope Valley couple has pleaded guilty to operating an elaborate dog fighting ring out of their home, complete with a portable fighting pit and treadmills to train the canines, authorities said.

The couple pleaded guilty to more than a dozen felony counts.

The plea by Jesse Eduardo Jiminez, 44, on Wednesday included 13 counts of dog fighting; nine counts of willful animal cruelty; six counts of animal neglect; two counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license; and one count of possession of cocaine. All but two of those counts are felonies.

Jiminez, who is free on $560,000 bond, is due to surrender on Jan. 27 to begin serving the entirety of a 356-day county jail sentence handed down by Antelope Valley Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky. If he fails to show up, he faces 23 years in state prison.

Under the terms of the plea deal, 28 counts will be dismissed once Jiminez serves his term, ultimately resulting in a conviction on three felonies including one count of willful animal cruelty and two counts of dog fighting.

The sentence includes three years of formal probation, completion of an animal cruelty counseling program and restitution. Jiminez also is prohibited from owning any dogs or living with anyone who has dogs. He also will be subject to search-and-seizure terms by all law enforcement, including the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

His wife, Yvette Jiminez, also pleaded guilty to one count of willful animal cruelty and two counts of felony dog fighting. She received the same probation restrictions as her husband and was ordered released after serving nine months behind bars.

The couple became the focus a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigation after deputies received an anonymous tip on the county's dog fighting tip line.

Armed with a search warrant, deputies discovered 10 adult pitbulls chained in the backyard with scars and "fresh injuries." Three pitbull puppies also were found chained or fenced in the backyard.

But they key evidence for Sheriff's investigators was that the couple had made copious and detailed, handwritten descriptions of dog fights dating back to the mid-1990s. The writings included "training regimens and blow-by-blow narratives of select dog fights," prosecutors said.

Authorities seized several treadmills and a portable dog fighting pit "stained with what appeared to be blood," the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said. Other materials included literature on how to train fighting dogs, how to treat animal injuries and boxes of medical supplies.

-- Andrew Blankstein