Case Snapshot
Case ID: 12449
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse
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Prosecutor(s): Eric Neumann
Defense(s): Michael Tague
Judge(s): Mitchell Shick

For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.

Wednesday, Aug 1, 2007

County: Coles

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Ernest C. Rose

Case Updates: 7 update(s) available

Multiple counts of criminal charges have been filed against Ernest C. Rose, the owner of the farm where several horses were found dead and all were removed because of alleged neglect.

Charges on file against Rose so far are several misdemeanor counts of improper disposal of animals and violation of owner's duties. State's Attorney Steve Ferguson said additional charges are likely.

Rose is the owner of the farm at 1050 W. Coolidge Ave., Charleston, where Coles County sheriff's deputies and animal shelter officials first visited on Aug. 1 and reportedly found some horses dead and numerous others in a state of neglect.

On Sept. 12, authorities removed the remaining horses at the farm, about 60 in all, after they said Rose didn't start caring for them properly as he indicated he would.

The charges were filed late Friday, and Ferguson said he didn't know yet when Rose might appear in court.

Attempts to contact Rose, who apparently doesn't live at the farm, and his attorney, Michael Tague of Champaign, weren't successful. In an earlier interview, Tague denied the horses were neglected, but said he wanted to have the details of Rose's side of the story come out in court.

Ferguson said his office looked to see whether any felony charges might have been appropriate to the case, but didn't find any that applied.

He also explained that, before filing charges, he wanted reports on each horse found at the farm so he could "identify a particular horse with a particular situation." Earlier reports described the overall conditions at the farm without giving specifics about each individual horse, he said.

Case Updates

Ernest C. Rose lost ownership of the horses he was convicted of starving and neglecting at his Charleston farm last year, and was ordered to pay more than $20,000 in fines and reimbursement for the care of the horses.

Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick on Friday said he saw a "disturbing pattern" with Rose, including evidence that he also neglected horses about 10 years ago, then "did nothing to intervene." Shick had Rose taken into custody immediately after Friday's hearing to begin serving a 10-day jail sentence, and more jail time could be possible under the terms of the two-year probation sentence he received.

In addition, Shick ordered Rose not to own or possess any type of animal while on probation.

"You have yet to accept responsibility," the judge told Rose, who, as he did at his trial, blamed unreliable hired help for the deteriorating conditions Coles County authorities found at his farm at 1050 W. Coolidge Ave. in August and September of last year.

Shick convicted Rose at a bench trial in September of nearly 200 counts of misdemeanor offenses, charges of cruelty to animals, violations of owner's duties and improper disposal of dead animals.

Evidence at the trial indicated that a neighbor notified the county animal shelter of a foul odor coming from Rose's property, and investigators then found several dead horses and numerous others that were starving, stuck in mud, living in overcrowded conditions or otherwise neglected.

On Friday, Shick ordered about a quarter of the reimbursement to the county for the horse's care that Assistant State's Attorney Eric Neumann. The judge said he was ordering to Rose to pay about $14,000 for the 14 horses Rose agreed to have removed from his property when the conditions were first discovered.

However, Shick also noted that he granted a defense pretrial motion and declared the seizure of the additional horses illegal, as they were taken later when conditions allegedly worsened at the farm again. Shick said county officials didn't have the authority to go to the farm at that time because Rose withdrew his permission by then.

All of the 72 horses were removed and were placed in foster care, but most were taken in September 2007, and Shick said the law didn't allow him to order Rose to pay for the county's care of those horses. Shick's order that Rose forfeit the horses also included the six foals that have been born to mares since their removal from the farm.

Defense attorney Michael Tague said Rose plans to appeal the conviction. Shick denied Tague's request that Rose not have to serve the jail time immediately, pending the appeal or at least until he could arrange his personal affairs.

After the hearing, Tague said he didn't know yet if Rose would pay the fines and reimbursement within the time limits Shick imposed, the reimbursement within three months and the fines within six months.

Rose had no comment after the hearing, but during a statement to Shick said, as he did at his trial, that people he hired to care for the horses proved undependable. He also said he's changed the schedule of his medical practice, which he claimed kept him away from the farm, and added that he's made improvements there.

"I've done everything I can to rectify the situation," Rose said. "I'll do everything in my power to keep it from happening again."

However, Shick classified Rose's lack of response to his employees requests for help as "dismissive at best," and when a horse died as a result, that was "callous disregard" of the poor conditions.

If Rose does pay the fines, they would go to the county's general budget fund and the County Board would then decide how to use the money. Board member Marc Weber attended the hearing Friday and said he hopes the board would appropriate the fines to the animal shelter; Weber is chairman of the board's Health and Safety Committee, which oversees the shelter.

Other probation terms Shick ordered included counseling and 500 hours of public service work, and he said he wanted the probation department to try to find an organization that works to prevent animal abuse for Rose to do his public service. He ordered a total of six months in jail, but Rose would have to serve more than the 10 days only because of a violation of another term of his sentence.

Tague argued that a 1999 complaint of mistreated of horses that the Illinois Department of Agriculture investigated never led to any charges, so "this isn't a repeat situation." He said Rose's mistake was in how he took responsibility and supervised the farm.

"There's no evidence he won't get it when you tell him," Tague said to Shick. "He will be motivated to run a tip-top operation."

Neumann said the 1999 investigation found neglect and the lack of the state's followup didn't change that. He also noted that after the conditions at the farm were discovered last year, Rose made improvements but conditions again deteriorated, and all that showed a history of mistreatment.

Rose has a lawsuit pending in federal court asking the county for the return of the horses, and a hearing in that case is scheduled Jan. 16.
Source: Journal-Gazette - Jan 10, 2009
Update posted on Jan 11, 2009 - 12:43AM 
An Illinois doctor found guilty of mistreating 72 horses has been ordered to pay for their care.

A judge ordered Ernest Rose of Charleston on Friday to pay more than $20,000 in fines and costs related to the animals' upkeep.

Coles County Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick also ordered Rose to begin a 10-day jail sentence. Rose cannot own horses or any other animals during a two-year probation following his jail term.

Defense attorney Michael Tague says Rose plans to appeal.

Friday's sentencing follows Rose's conviction in September of nearly 200 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, violations of owner's duties and improper disposal of dead animals.

Rose is suing in federal court for the horses' return. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 16.
Source: TheSouthern.Com - Jan 10, 2009
Update posted on Jan 11, 2009 - 12:42AM 
A Coles County judge has found a doctor guilty of dozens of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges stemming from the mistreatment of horses.

County animal officials testified the underfed horses on Ernest Rose's farm near Charleston had to slog through mud to find water and were fed only moldy hay.

Rose was charged in 2007 with nearly 200 misdemeanor offenses including violation of owner's duties, cruelty to animals and the improper disposal of dead animals.

Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick found Rose guilty of most of the charges. The judge said the 72 horses found on Rose's farm "were in distress for a number of weeks, if not months."

Defense attorney Michael Tague says he and Rose are disappointed in the ruling. Rose's sentencing is slated for November 21st.
Source: Chicago Tribune - Sept 21, 2008
Update posted on Sep 21, 2008 - 11:24AM 
A judge and attorneys worked Tuesday to try to help a jury save time when it comes to their consideration of nearly 200 counts of charges against the man accused of neglecting his horses at a Charleston farm last year.

Every indication at the hearing in the case against Ernest C. Rose was that his trial will begin Monday as scheduled.

Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick termed Tuesday's court session as Rose's final pretrial hearing. While Rose was allowed to skip the hearing, Shick and the attorneys began working on the instructions jurors will receive to guide them in deciding if Rose is guilty.

Rose is scheduled for trial on misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals, violation of owner's duties and unlawful disposal of dead animals. Coles County authorities discovered 72 horses that allegedly hadn't been fed or watered or that were suffering from various afflictions at Rose's farm at 1050 Coolidge Ave. in August of last year.

With many of the charges against Rose being counts of cruelty to animals, much of Tuesday's hearing went to addressing the problem that there is no legal definition of "cruelty."

Shick said he thought he would have to acquit Rose of the charges without the case going to the jury unless the prosecution could say specific acts amounted to cruelty. Assistant State's Attorney Eric Neumann replied by saying what's cruel is a "factual matter" that the jury has to decide, leading Shick to ultimately ask for more specifics if possible.

"Do your best," the judge said. "We're likely entering new territory."

Other discussion of what the trial is expected to bring included Neumann's saying the prosecution plans to show that Rose, who lives in the Chicago area, knew about conditions at the farm though he wasn't there all the time.

Defense attorney Michael Tague said his evidence would include bills for food and water that Rose purchased at the time the horses were reportedly discovered, with both sides indicating that there would also be evidence that employees were at least partly responsible for the conditions at the farm, either with or without Rose's knowledge or approval.

According to evidence at earlier hearings in the case, county animal control officers went to the farm on Aug. 1 of last year after a neighbor reported smelling an odor and then finding dead horses on the property.

Rose and authorities then agreed on a plan to remedy the situation, but the last of the horses were removed and charges against Rose were filed after a visit to the farm on Sept. 10, 2007, that allegedly led to the discovery of continued poor conditions.

Each of the allegedly neglected horses in the case have at least one charge referring specifically to that horse, which Neumann said on Tuesday was needed for Rose to forfeit a horse listed in a charge of which he's convicted.
Source: Journal-Gazette - Sept 10, 2008
Update posted on Sep 11, 2008 - 12:09AM 
A judge Thursday upheld most of the evidence authorities gathered when they first investigated reports of dead and mistreated horses at Ernest C. Rose's farm last year, but left open the possibility of throwing out what they found later, perhaps because a search warrant was no longer in place.

Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick said he would reconvene today a hearing that began and took most of the day Thursday. Shick said he wanted attorneys to prepare for their cases on whether officers from the Coles County animal shelter and other officials had the right to go Rose's property more than a month later, when most of Rose's horses were seized.

With new charges added in the case recently, Rose now faces a total of 76 counts of misdemeanor offenses that accuse him of failing to provide food, water and other care to more than 70 horses at his farm at 1050 W. Coolidge Ave., Charleston.

His trial is presently scheduled to start Monday, but there were indications Thursday that the trial could be postponed, pending Shick's ruling on motions and because of the recently filed charges. A decision on that should come at today's hearing, during which the prosecution will also argue that Rose should have to pay for county's cost of caring for the horses, which are now at foster homes.

Much of Thursday's hearing addressed defense attorney Michael Tague's motion asking that a search warrant issued on Aug. 1 of last year be declared illegal and that all evidence found then and after that not be allowed at trial.

Shick said the evidence is clear that animal shelter workers first went onto Rose's property without a warrant but it was justified because they were responding to a complaint.

"There is no question this was a warrantless entry, but that's not the end of the story," Shick said.

He noted that animal shelter officials continued to visit Rose's property different times up until Sept. 12, when 55 horses were removed. Noting claims that the visits were part of an ongoing investigation, Shick asked, "How far does the law go to allow re-entry?"

Assistant State's Attorneys Mick McAvoy and Eric Neumann tried to show that the continued visits were to check on whether Rose had made progress toward remedying the situation.

Animal shelter Manager Julie Deters testified that, in addition to wanting to monitor the progress, an employee of Rose's came to the shelter on Sept. 4 and requested a visit. She said the workers said Rose hadn't had some horses' hooves treated and said that would be "a waste of time."

McAvoy classified the Rose's worker's report as a "second complaint" that justified another search of his property. Deters said the conditions at the property by that time had deteriorated, leading her to consult with the state's attorney's office about removing the rest of the horses there.

Earlier in the hearing, Richard Owens, who lives adjacent to Rose's property, said he was at the border of the two properties on July 31 of last year and smelled a strong odor. He said he followed the odor and eventually found several dead horses in various stages of decomposition, and he then notified the animal shelter.

Shelter animal control wardens Ryan Livingston and Jason Wallace then went to the scene, each testified Thursday, and after verifying what Owens saw, notified the shelter. That led to the search warrant served at the farm the following day, when authorities reportedly found starving and mistreated horses and removed some of them.

Shick agreed with Neumann's argument that the circumstances meant there was sufficient reason for the search warrant to be issued, though Tague contended that authorities should have sought a warrant after Owens' report.

Also Thursday, Shick barred the prosecution from using at trial any evidence of an investigation into Rose's alleged mistreatment of horses in 1999, from which no criminal charges resulted. However, if the defense presented something for which the prosecution might use the earlier incident for rebuttal, his ruling could change, he added.

The newest filed charges against Rose include several counts of cruelty to animals, alleging he starved or didn't properly care for the horses or didn't address fighting, overcrowding or other conditions. He also faces several counts of violation of owner's duties and unlawful disposal of dead animals. The charges can result in jail time and fines, and Rose might have to forfeit ownership of the horses if he's convicted.
Source: Journal-Gazette - Aug 1, 2008
Update posted on Aug 1, 2008 - 7:17PM 
Ernest C. Rose will be in court later this month to face charges alleging neglect and other mistreatment of numerous horses he owns, and a prosecutor says the misdemeanor charges he filed in the case are appropriate.

Rose is charged with 45 counts of misdemeanor offenses in connection with the more than 60 horses that were found dead at or were removed from his farm at 1050 W. Coolidge Ave., Charleston, during August and September.

The charges against Rose are violation of owner's duties, which accuse him of failing to provide the horses with sufficient food, water or veterinarian care, and unlawful disposal of a dead animal, alleging he didn't dispose of dead horses as required within 24 hours of the animals' deaths.

Rose's first court appearance in the case is scheduled for Nov. 21.

State's Attorney Steve Ferguson said there is a felony offense, aggravated cruelty to animals, that applies to some animal cases, but filing that charge requires proof of an intentional act of cruel treatment that caused the animal serious injury or death.

"We don't have that here," Ferguson said of Rose's case.

State law doesn't define cruel treatment except for "beating, tormenting, overworking or otherwise abusing" an animal, he explained. He said he thinks the law is "poorly drafted," and he understands that the case frustrates some people.

"This situation obviously has an emotional ring to it and people think that's cruel, but we're working with statutory regulations," he said. "There is a distinction between negligent conduct and intentional conduct."

Ferguson said the law outlining the offense of violation of owner's duties is more specific, stating that a violation takes place when an owner doesn't provide food, water or care. It would be "crossing the line" to assume that failing to provide that care was intentional, he said.

A felony animal cruelty charge can result in a prison sentence of one to three years or probation. The charges against Rose carry a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail.

Meanwhile, there's a hearing scheduled for Dec. 4 in U.S. District Court in Urbana in the federal lawsuit Rose's attorney filed against the Coles County Animal Rescue and Education Center. The suit claims that seizing the horses violated Rose's rights and asks that they be returned to him and that monetary damages be awarded.

Michael Tague, the Champaign attorney representing Rose, said state law requires a hearing, either by the Illinois Department of Agriculture or the county, before the horses could be taken.

Had a hearing taken place, Rose could have shown that only a "handful" of the horses should actually have been a concern and there could have been discussion of "some people's idea that you provide every vaccine that comes out," he said.

"The overwhelming evidence was that most of the horses were in good condition," Tague said. "There is no basis for any claim of lack of nutrition, lack of weight or lack of veterinarian care."

Ferguson said the law requires county animal control officials to help with an investigation and they can impound animals if needed.

"In my estimation, that provides the authority," he said. He added that the state Agriculture Department has indicated that the county had "independent" jurisdiction in the case and was authorized to investigate and impound the animals.

The charges against Rose include accusations that there wasn't veterinary case for various problems with some of the horses, including pneumonia, cracked hooves, skin disease, mouth sores and dental disease.

Coles County sheriff's deputies and animal shelter officials first visited the farm on Aug. 1 and reportedly found some horses dead and numerous others in a state of neglect. On Sept. 12, authorities removed the remaining horses at the farm, about 60 in all, after they said Rose didn't start caring for them properly as he indicated he would.
Source: Journal-Gazette - Nov 9, 2007
Update posted on Nov 13, 2007 - 4:38AM 
More charges have been filed against the owner of a farm where several horses were allegedly neglected, and he's now suing to try to get his horses returned to him.

Ernest C. Rose is now charged with 45 counts of misdemeanor offenses in connection with the treatment of the more than 60 horses Coles County authorites found dead at or removed from his farm at 1050 W. Coolidge Ave., Charleston.

Twelve counts of violation of owner's duties were added to the case on Wednesday, five days after the initial charges were filed in the case. The earlier charges are 17 counts of violation of owner's duties and 16 counts of unlawful disposal of a dead animal; some of the separate charges make allegations concerning a single horse.

There's no indication when Rose might appear in court.

Continued attempt to contact Rose haven't been successful, but on Thursday his attorney, Michael Tague of Champaign, said Rose denies the allegations.

"We believe those charges are unfounded," Tague said. He said Rose plans to plead not guilty to the charges, adding that he didn't want Rose to talk to the news media about the case.

On Tuesday, Tague filed a lawsuit on Rose's behalf in U.S. District Court in Urbana that claimed the seizure of the horses represented a violation of Rose's constitutional rights. The suit asks for the horses to be returned and for monetary damages to be paid to Rose.

"He does not intend to get out of the horse business," Tague said. "Part of our agenda is to get the horses back."

Coles County sheriff's deputies and animal shelter officials first visited on Aug. 1 and reportedly found some horses dead and numerous others in a state of neglect. On Sept. 12, authorities removed the remaining horses at the farm, about 60 in all, after they said Rose didn't start caring for them properly as he indicated he would.
Source: Journal-Gazette - Oct 11, 2007
Update posted on Oct 14, 2007 - 4:26PM 


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