DETROIT (WWJ) - A Detroit rap artist who shot a video that showed off his alleged dog fighting operation is now facing criminal charges.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office announced the charges Wednesday against 22-year-old Toranio Hightower, aka Young Calicoe. Hightower is charged with animal fighting, conspiracy to commit animal fighting and conspiracy to gamble. If convicted as charged, he faces up to 13 years in prison.
Also charged are 31-year-old Savay Chokbengboun and 26-year-old Cassandra Faye Worthington, both of Detroit.
Chokbegboun is charged with conspiracy to gamble, five counts of animal fighting, conspiracy to commit animal fighting, possessing animal fighting equipment and cruelty to animals. Worthington is charged with 5 counts of animal fighting and conspiracy to commit animal fighting, possessing animal fighting equipment and cruelty to animals.
Prosecutors alleged that Hightower, Chokbegboun and Worthington were involved in a dog fighting operation from approximately July 2009 through July 2012.
On July 11, 2012, the Detroit Police Department and the Michigan Human Society conducted a raid where dogs and other animals were removed from a home located in the 12200 block of West Outer Drive.
Police began an investigation after a video of Hightower talking about dog fights went viral.
The video starts with Hightower standing with a man who is holding an alligator. “We got a fu***** zoo over here,” he says.
Hightower then takes the camera on a tour of the home, leading visitors through a yard full of animal cages with roosters and pit bulls inside. The animals are described as “grand champions,” presumably in the fighting ring, several times in the video that was shared on several video websites.
The disreputable-looking pad is described in the video as country in Detroit. “We ain’t country, but this is country sh**,” Hightower says in the video.
At one point in the video, Hightower makes reference to Michael Vick — the NFL player who went to jail for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring — saying “Anybody want fightin’ dogs? I hope we don’t get indicted for that, that Michael Vick type sh**.”
Hightower, Chokbegboun and Worthington are expected to appear in 36th District Court on Nov. 27 for a preliminary examination.
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