A Tale of Two Neighborhoods

With his motorcycles and his tattoos, Jon Bryce LaPierre is almost prototypically blue-collar. He's also an almost archetypal bully, and he's got the yuppie neighbors scared witless.

As deputy director of San Francisco's Animal Care and Control agency, Feazell is responsible for all investigations into animal cruelty in the city. Much of her time is spent tracking and trying to arrest people who fight pit bull terriers.

Acting on an anonymous tip in March 1995, Feazell and a brace of local law enforcement agents raided a warehouse South of Market. They knew what to expect. They were, after all, interrupting the Western United States pit bull fighting championship, with entrants from seven states.

Even so, what they found horrified them.
In the middle of the warehouse, in the fighting ring, a large swath of carpet was soaked in blood, feces and urine. The walls were soaked with blood. In several rooms off the main fighting area, pit bulls lay dead or dying or severely, savagely, wounded.

In one room a dead pit bull lay on a table, facing away from the door. The wall above its head was smeared with blood. The dog had died of a broken neck, an unusual wound for a pit bull to sustain from fighting another pit bull. Feazell has come to believe that the owner was angry that his dog lost a fight and banged its head into the wall, killing it.

In another room, a dog sat on the floor, legs spread out in dejection and pain, its snout horribly torn and bleeding. Feazell had to destroy it.

LaPierre was charged with training a dog for the fight, causing the dog to take part in the fight, and allowing a premises under his control to be used to train a dog for the fight. He pleaded guilty to the last charge and was placed on probation. The trophy in Feazell's office, adorned with little gold pit bulls and topped with a winged victory figure, would have gone to the winner, had Feazell and an army of cops and investigators not shut down the fight, at which LaPierre and his wife, Ginger, were arrested.

Three days later, Feazell conducted a search of 56 Samoset, accompanied by nine other law enforcement agents. LaPierre's parole officer from a 1989 drug bust was on hand, too.

Investigative logs detail what they found: As Feazell and other officers began to walk upstairs, LaPierre's mother, Isabel, said, "I have to take care of my babies."

What babies, Feazell asked.
"I'm raising three orphaned puppies," the mother replied. Isabel showed Feazell three puppies lying in a cardboard box in the bathroom. Meanwhile, Ginger LaPierre stood in the hall and spoke to someone -- maybe Jon -- over a cell phone. "They're looking at the puppies." She turned to Isabel and asked, "Why did you show them the puppies?"

The investigators confiscated the puppies and some pit bull training aids. As the investigative team was leaving, one of the officers led a full-grown pit bull out through the garage. The dog, Klive, pushed the officer aside and jumped on a treadmill. The officer flipped the treadmill's switch; the dog began walking. The mother tried to explain that the treadmill was hers. Feazell was convinced that 56 Samoset was a place where pit bulls were trained to fight. And kill.

Jon Bryce LaPierre came into contact with law enforcement several times in early adulthood, but was not convicted until 1988, when he was collared for possession of a stolen vehicle and placed on probation.

In March 1989, LaPierre hit the big time. He and his wife, Ginger, were arrested with 5 ounces of cocaine, both crack and powder. The police narrative of the arrest lessens any suspicion that LaPierre might be a criminal mastermind.

When officers arrived at an Excelsior address and asked to conduct a probation search, LaPierre slammed the door in their faces. After gaining entry to the home, the officers found guns, ammunition, drugs, scales, plastic bags, pipes, and more than $8,000 in cash. Jon and Ginger waived their Miranda rights and spilled their guts -- but their guts contained different, conflicting stories.

According to a police report, LaPierre said he had been on welfare for five years and the cocaine was for his personal use -- all 5 ounces of it. Ginger told the cops that Jon was co-owner of a motorcycle shop.

Eventually, LaPierre pleaded guilty and received two years in state prison. He was released on parole a year later. The next year, he was convicted of trying to construct a methamphetamine lab in San Jose with his brother, Kevin, and Kevin's wife. He was sent back to prison for five months and released on parole again.

In 1995 the pit bull case sent him back to Folsom for six months. About two months after his release, police investigating a shooting incident (in which LaPierre was never charged) searched the 56 Samoset home. There, Inspector William Murphy reported finding one of LaPierre's daughters, her boyfriend, a shotgun, ammunition, some marijuana, and $6,000 in cash. The daughter was convicted of being an accessory to a crime; the boyfriend, records show, was convicted of that crime, possession of marijuana. LaPierre was not charged.

Subsequently, LaPierre beat his wife and was placed on so-called "last chance" probation. If he runs afoul of the law again before his probation expires in 1999, he could return to state prison for three years.

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