A Pennsylvania woman and her husband charged with running a dogfighting ring out of the home they shared with five children has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him in the case.
The Daily Local News of West Chester reports Laura Acampora, 34, entered pleas Tuesday in Chester County Court to three animal cruelty counts and charges of endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and criminal conspiracy.
She and her husband, Shane Santiago, 34, of Coatesville, Pa. who is scheduled for trial in November, were arrested in December after authorities went to the residence while investigating the remains of dead dogs found in the West Brandywine area.
Acampora, who didn't address the court other than answering questions about whether she understood the meaning of her pleas, was granted bail and released, according to court records.
Senior Judge Thomas Gavin told her that he had received multiple letters expressing outrage and demanding a strict sentence, but he would rule based on the facts.
Assistant District Attorney Priya DeSouza alleged that the couple hosted dog fights and also exposed their children, who were 3 to 15 years old at the time, to training and the eldest attended fights.
"Her children cared for the pit bulls that were being trained to attack other creatures," DeSouza told the judge. She said one of the animals bit the eldest child and Santiago killed that and another dog by hanging them in the basement. Officials also alleged that another dog was burned alive after fighting.
Authorities investigating the remains of dead dogs found in the West Brandywine area said they discovered a full-scale training operation in the home and an "arena" in the basement.
“When we got into that home what we found was a nightmare,” District Attorney Tom Hogan said at the time of the couple's arrest. “This was a full-scale operation of not only dogfighting, but dog training, dog breeding, and dog killing.”
Officers rescued several dogs and a massive amount of dog fighting paraphernalia including a treadmill and a fighting ring.