Hundreds of cockfighting fans have taken the short trek off I-20 onto Goose Platter Road, past Oak Grove church and down bumpy, clay-colored sandy roads in Aiken County, S.C., authorities say. The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. reports that down an unmarked, long driveway off Friendly Street, cockfighting enthusiasts enter a metal gate and pass by what appears to be a small guardhouse with a satellite dish attached. Those who make it through that gate have arrived at The Carolina Club, also known as The Testing Facility Inc. Federal agents say the facility really was a cover for a roving, multistate, illegal cockfight operation.
Last week, S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Charles Sharpe and former agent Keith Stokes were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of protecting The Carolina Club and its unnamed operators. The S.C. Gamefowl Management Association operated The Carolina Club for cockfighting derbies that drew contestants and spectators from many states, prosecutors contend. The Carolina Club made headlines in November when Aiken County deputies raided it and charged 118 people with cockfighting. It is a misdemeanor punishable with 30 days in jail or a $100 fine for participating or watching a fight. The State describes in detail how the club operated.