By Taylor Harris


NEW YORK (Reuters) - The president of a game bird breeding organization was charged in New York federal court on Thursday with raising roosters for cockfighting.


Thomas Carrano, 44, who heads up the New York State United Gamefowl Breeders Association, was expected to appear in court on Thursday on one count of conspiring to possess, train and buy roosters for fighting.


Law enforcement officials searched Carrano's Rochester farm in May and recovered 104 chickens, including 31 roosters, along with steroids, a rooster sparring dummy and grooming tools. Many of the male birds had their combs, wattles or earlobes removed, authorities said.


In cockfighting, which is illegal in all 50 states, roosters are often outfitted with metal or plastic spurs on their legs and fight to the death with spectators betting on the outcome.


Carrano's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The president of the national breeding organization, Bucky Harless, said in a phone interview that it was common for breeders to be targeted by authorities. He said that while his organization does not encourage breaking the law, "We do believe the laws against cockfighting are unjust, unfair and unconstitutional."

Harless said Carrano called him for advice after authorities seized his property.

"It was an invalid search warrant and they didn't even have any real proof or reason for the search," Harless said. "Those are trumped-up charges."

The indictment named only Carrano as a defendant but said additional members of the breeding organization were involved in the cockfighting conspiracy.

(Reporting by Taylor Harris; Editing by Bill Trott)