Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, January 18, 2013
Father, son get jail time

An East Rockland Key father and son were sentenced to jail time Tuesday in one of the largest rooster cruelty cases in recent Monroe County history after both accepted plea agreements from prosecutors.

County Judge Wayne Miller sentenced Jorge Enrique Blanco Jr., 21, of 502 Park Drive, Unit 2, to 45 days in jail, 100 hours of community service, followed by three years' probation and a total of $1,843 in fines, court fees and investigative costs, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Richard Fowler argued for no jail time other than the two weeks Blanco Jr. already served after his May 24 arrest, but Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne argued otherwise by calling state wildlife and animal welfare officers who testified as to the conditions of the property during the raid.

Agencies involved in the investigation included the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

More than 200 roosters were found on the property and many were injured and lacked food and water, according to arrest reports.

On May 24, Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies charged Blanco Jr. with one count of animal fighting and 53 counts of cruelty to animals.

On Tuesday, Blanco Jr. pleaded guilty to 10 charges of animal cruelty and the remaining charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement, according to court documents.

He had been facing a maximum of 54 years and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for each of the 54 charges had he gone to trial.

Meanwhile, his father, Jorge Enrique Blanco Sr., 42, of 502 Park Drive, Unit 1, was sentenced to be on drug offender probation for two years and must successfully complete a jail treatment program that typically lasts six to nine months.

He must then serve a total of four years' probation under house arrest. The father must also pay $2,278 in fines, court fees and investigative costs, according to court documents.

He pleaded guilty to one count of animal fighting and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, after prosecutors dropped 71 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, as part of the plea agreement.

Both men are banned from possessing any "fowl, hens, roosters or chickens."

Blanco Sr. was sentenced also as part of a previous animal cruelty case that was pending when he was arrested on May 24.

SWAT team members who served the warrant found 1.1 ounces of powdered cocaine and $905 in cash at Blanco Sr.'s house, according to arrest affidavits.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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