BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Following the breakup of one of the largest cockfighting rings in the country this summer, six family members from Chilton County have been sentenced to prison.

Seven members of the Easterling family from Verbena have been sentenced to prison for violating the Animal Welfare Act that prohibits cockfighting, as well as conspiring with others to engage in the activity. They had all pleaded guilty to the charges earlier in the summer.

The court issued the following sentences for four defendants:

  • On Dec. 6, George William “Billy” Easterling, 56, was sentenced to 22 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting and for conspiring with others to violate the Act in connection with the cockfighting pit and the Swift Creek Gamefarm fighting-bird breeding operation.
  • On Nov. 30, Brent Colon Easterling, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting and for conspiring with others to violate the Act in connection with the cockfighting pit and the L&L Gamefarm fighting-bird breeding operation.
  • On Nov. 30, William “Tyler” Easterling, 30, was sentenced to 20 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting and for conspiring with others to violate the Act in connection with the cockfighting pit and the Swift Creek Gamefarm fighting-bird breeding operation.
  • On Nov. 30, William Colon “Jim” Easterling, 77, was sentenced to two years of home detention — rather than incarceration which the court determined would be “extremely detrimental” to his declining health — and a fine of $8,000 for violating the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting ventures and for conspiring with others to violate the Act and to operate an illegal gambling business in connection with the cockfighting pit.

On Oct. 13, four others–including three additional members of the Easterling family– were sentenced after pleading guilty to other charges:

  • Kassi Brook Easterling, 39, was sentenced to two years of probation, including six months of home detention, for conspiring with others to violate the Animal Welfare Act’s prohibition against animal fighting ventures, including the sale of cockfighting knives, and for her involvement with the L&L Gamefarm fighting-bird breeding operation.
  • Amber Nicole Easterling, 25, was sentenced to one year of probation for her involvement with the cockfighting pit.
  • Thomas Glyn “Junior” Williams, 34, was sentenced to one year of probation for his involvement with the cockfighting pit and the Swift Creek Gamefarm fighting-bird breeding operation.

These sentencings mark the end of a case where the Easterlings were held responsible for operating a large-scale cockfighting pit and massive fighting-bird breeding businesses, and for conspiring to violate the Animal Welfare Act and to operate an illegal gambling business.

Prosecutors maintain that from January 2018 through June 2021, illegal cockfighting events were held at the cockfighting pit, which featured an arena with stadium-style seating for approximately 150 people. Participants were charged expensive fees to enter their birds in the derbies – such as $1,500 to fight seven roosters – and told what weapons to strap to the roosters’ legs, such as short knives, long knives or spurs.

In addition, the Easterling family also ran two large fighting-bird breeding businesses known as Swift Creek Gamefarm and L&L Gamefarm, where thousands of birds were bred and sold to be used in fights. 

Consistent with his plea agreement, William Colon Easterling dismantled and destroyed the cockfighting pit.

“As these sentences vividly show, the Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable those who encourage and profit from forcing animals to fight each other for human entertainment,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.