Cockfighters tell FBI they paid Tennessee Rep. to lower penalty

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A federal agent says cockfighting operators claimed they paid former state Rep. Ronnie Davis $30,000 to sponsor a bill reducing a cockfighting charge to a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

FBI Agent Thomas P. Farrow spoke to members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday before they approved a bill that would stiffen the penalty for animal fighting to a felony.

Farrow says the allegations surfaced during his agency's investigation into illegal cockfighting in Cocke County that began in 2001.

Davis, who served 18 years in the state House before losing a bid for re-election in 2002, denied the allegations in an interview with The Knoxville News Sentinel.

The Newport Republican sponsored the misdemeanor bill in 1990. He was sentenced to 26 months in jail on felony charges in a fraud scheme in 2004.

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(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



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