John Matthew Chappelear

Westmorland Imperial County Sheriff’s Officers (ICSO) arrested a man Tuesday morning, May 28, in an unincorporated area near Westmorland for alleged cock-fighting in Imperial County.

After a lengthy investigation, John Matthew Chappelear was arrested for felony animal cruelty and was found to be in possession of materials and animals used in cock-fighting, according to ICSO Lt. Jimmy Duran. Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed. 

Chappelear was held on $100,000 bail, but posted bail and was released. 

Search warrants were served Tuesday in response to an ongoing investigation into a cock-fighting ring in Imperial County. As a result of the search warrants, Chappelear was arrested.

"A total of 224 birds and multiple training tools associated with cock fighting were recovered at the scene," said Duran.

The case is still under investigation in conjunction with Imperial County Animal Control. A criminal complaint will be filed with the District Attorney’s Office.

A spokesman for the Imperial Irrigation District said Chappelear is a long-time employee.

Please contact the Sheriff’s Investigations unit if you have any have any information regaining this case. You may provide information via

(2) comments


I was told a story about 3 years ago from a reliable source that cockfighting was going on in Westmoreland and that a IID Director would attend those fights.


I, too, have heard that the north end director who lives in Westmorland is a participant as well.

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