John Bacon: convicted dogfighter, alleged tongue puller.
This week's feature story about the largest dogfighting bust in American history includes a section that details a series of interviews with John Bacon, a convicted dogfighter from Washington Park, Illinois, who is currently serving sixteen months in federal prison.
Bacon alleges that authorities "broke the law" in order to put him and his associates behind bars. As part of that claim, he cites an incident that occurred at his sentencing hearing earlier this year.
In asking the judge in his case to go above and beyond federal sentencing guidelines, the U.S. Attorney's Office claimed Bacon had bragged to investigators about a time he ripped out his dog's tongue, killing the pit bull with his bare hands.
From "Government's Sentencing Memorandum," (click for .pdf) a document written by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Hudson, dated May 26, 2010:
"During the March 22, 2009, tour, Bacon boasted of his dogs skill, the dog's Mexican bloodline, and his unwillingness to keep a dog that was not game. While admitting that he accidentally killed a dog he only meant to strike with a stick, Bacon boasted that he pulled the tongue out of a dog and killed it for the dog's poor fighting."
Over the course of several conversations, Bacon vehemently and repeatedly denied that he ever did -- let alone said -- such a thing.
"Jennifer Hudson, she twist my words up so bad," Bacon told Riverfront Times, recalling the sentencing hearing. "They said they had video of me saying what they said I was saying. I told her I didn't say that. She said I did. They called a 45-minute recess [to watch the video]. It turns out I didn't say it."
Bacon represented himself for a portion of his trial and was able to obtain the videos recorded by the undercover agents in the case. He provided some of the footage to Riverfront Times, including the recording of the tour of his kennel he unwittingly gave to undercover agents Jeff Heath and Terry Mills of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Below is a version edited to show just the exchange about the alleged tongue pulling.
Bacon (wearing overalls) is standing next to Ricky Stringfellow. Stringfellow was also convicted of dogfighting and sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison. He allowed Bacon and another dogfighter to keep their dogs in a kennel on his property. He also hosted the dogfight described in our story and featured in yesterday's post on Daily RFT.
In the video clip, Bacon and Stringfellow are talking to the agents about the use of steroids in dogfights and a previous match against a dog named Slick Willie. It's not entirely clear whether Bacon boasts about ripping out his dog's tongue, but he admits -- in no uncertain terms -- to killing an animal.