Who, age What Where When Last known address

Helion Danilo Florian-Tejada (1), 26

aka Helioa Danilo Florian & Helioa Danilo Florian-Tejada

dogfighting - 10 dogs seized

Mason City, IA

Cerro Gordo County

August 4, 2006  
Brandon Dwayne Holton (2), 17 dogfighting - 10 dogs seized

Mason City, IA

Cerro Gordo County

August 4, 2006  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date

(1) drug possession, weapons charges, disorderly conduct

(2) disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer, drug possession

9 pitbulls, 1 rottweiler Convicted  

On August 16th, Helion Florian-Tejada, 26 of Mason City was arrested by the Mason City Police Department and charged with possession of crack cocaine, a serious misdemeanor and dogfighting, a Class D felony. Florian-Tejada was arrested by investigators with the Mason City Drug Enforcement Team. He was released from jail on August 17th.

A 17-year old juvenile also from Mason City, was arrested and charged with dogfighting and released to a family member. Both arrests stemmed from and incident that occurred on August 4th at 702 N Delaware Avenue. Mason City Animal Control Officers seized five Pit Bulls.

A Class D felony is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. A serious misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in prison. Mason City Police state that the investigation continues and more arrests are expected.

Update 8/24/06:  The Mason City Police Department gets between six and 10 reports a year of people conducting dog fights.  But “it’s very difficult to catch them in the act,” said Capt. Mike McKelvey. “It happens behind closed doors, normally in remote or rural areas, in a very closed circuit — it’s like catching people in prostitution or drug dealers.”

On Aug. 4, members of the Mason City Police Department’s Drug Enforcement Team were staking out a house at 702 N. Delaware Ave. when they observed the illegal activity.  “It is rare to catch them in the act,” McKelvey said. “We were very fortunate that the Drug Enforcement Team was watching the house on other issues.”

Several of the people involved in the fight were able to flee, leaving the dogs.

All of the dogs have various injuries.  “Some are more severe,” said Pat Gansen, Mason City animal control officer. “But they have all kinds of scrapes and lacerations.”

Gansen said the courts will determine what happens to the dogs.  “They’ll be evaluated to see if they can be rehabilitated,” she said. “But it’s not likely.”

The system does allow owners to claim the dogs if the person making the claim can show proof of proper licensing and vaccination.

dogfighting is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Update 8/30/06:  Police have seized three more pit bulls as part of an ongoing investigation into dogfighting in Mason City.  According to Cerro Gordo County Assistant Attorney Carlyle Dalen, the dogs were seized late last week.

In all, 10 dogs have been seized in a case active since Mason City police broke up a dog fight Aug. 4 at 702 N. Delaware Ave. and seized seven dogs.

The newest seizures occurred at separate locations, according to Mason City Police Lt. Frank Stearns. He did not have the addresses or the names of the owners.

Update 9/16/06: The future of 10 pit bulls could be determined in a courtroom on Monday, September 18th. Prosecutors will ask a Judge to determine if the dogs are fit for rehabilitation or if they need to be euthanized. The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in Cerro Gordo County District Court.

The dogs were seized by the Mason City Animal Control officer after the Police Department’s Neighborhood Enforcement Team observed a group of individuals conducting a dogfighting event on August 4th at 702 N. Delaware Avenue. When officers approached the location, people fled. Two dog owners were eventually charged.

Helios Florian-Tejada, 26, was charged with dogfighting and possession of crack cocaine. Days later, Brandon D. Holton, 17, Mason City, was charged with dogfighting. No additional charges have been filed, according to Dalen, but the case remains under investigation.

The dogs have been in custody of Mason City Animal Control and are being treated and housed at a local veterinary clinic. Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen stated the dogs are evidence in a criminal proceeding. The cost of keeping the dogs is between $100 and $150 a day for the group.

Dalen stated there would be two parts to Monday’s court proceedings. The prosecutor will ask the court to put the dogs into custody of the County Attorney’s Office. “If the dogs are placed in our custody,” Dalen said, “we will have expert testimony as to what should be done with the dogs.” Dalen said the ultimate concern is for public safety.

Dalen stated that Florian-Tejada and Holton, along with three others, have indicated that they have ownership rights to some of the dogs. But no one has shown proof of ownership in the way of license or appropriate records.

Update 9/18/08:  A veterinarian who has treated and housed 10 dogs seized by police in a dogfighting case has recommended the animals be euthanized. Jeff Cornick of Pioneer Animal Hospital, Mason City, said some of the dogs are very aggressive, especially with other dogs. Cornick also told Cerro Gordo County District Judge Paul Riffel that other dogs are very fearful, a characteristic of dogs involved in fighting. Answering questions from Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen, Cornick stated he did not think the dogs could be rehabilitated and placed safely back into society.

Dalen stated that five people, who have claimed ownership of the dogs but have not provided proper documentation, were contacted about today’s hearing.

Judge Riffel concluded the hearing and said a ruling would be made in the near future.

Update 9/20/06:  A Cerro Gordo County District Judge today ordered 10 dogs being held as evidence in a dogfighting case be put to death through euthanasia. Judge Paul Riffel’s ruling came two days after veterinarian Jeff Cornick of the Pioneer Animal Hospital said the dogs could not be rehabilitated or safely placed back in public. The dogs, 9 pit bulls and a Rottweiler, were seized after two Mason City men were arrested on dogfighting charges in August.

In his order, Judge Riffel said state law provides that “if the court determines that an animal is a threatened animal, the court has the authority to dispose of the animal in any manner deemed appropriate for the welfare of the animal.” He stated the law also provides that a dog involved in dogfighting should be considered “threatened and rescued” and can be disposed of in accordance with the law. Judge Riffel also stated that he concluded from the evidence and testimony that the 10 dogs were threatened animals.

Update 1/19/07:  Florian-Tejada remains at large after failing to appear in court for arraignment, and a warrant remains active for his arrest. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is encouraged to call the Cerro Gordo Sheriff's Office at 641-421-3001.

Co-defendant, Brandon Holton, is going through delinquency proceedings in juvenile court.

Update 10/9/07:  Florian-Tejada (DOB 1/8/80) initially entered a written plea of not guilty (Case #02171FECR015242) but changed that to a written plea of guilty and ordered to 90 day's in jail, fined $315 which was suspended and ordered to pay all court fees.  on 8/24/09 the court ordered the disposal of the drugs seized.

On 7/6/09 Florian-Tejada was issued a citation for Count 1 - dogs at large and Count 2 - care of animals by the Mason City Police and plead not guilty.  In October, Florian-Tejada plead guilty and was sentenced to 2 days in jail; Count 2 was dismissed but a fine of $50.00 was imposed.  Florian-Tejada was given a court ordered payment plan and was allowed to serve the 2 days in jail with the 90 days in jail for dogfighting.

Florian-Tejada is no stranger to the court system being listed 27 times as a defendant for weapons charges, robbery, unlawful possession of drugs in a correctional facility, traffic violations, disorderly conduct, theft, reckless use of fire/explosives and assault causing bodily injury.

Update 6/10/09:  Holton's dogfighting case was heard in juvenile court so the records are not available.  Other Iowa court records show Brandon Dwayne Holton (DOB 9/27/88) shows 18 cases where Holton is listed as the Defendant.  The cases range from driving under revoked license, burglary, controlled substance, leaving the scene of an accident, assault on a police officer, speeding, disorderly conduct


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