Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16498
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse
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Defense(s): Bob Rubin

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

Thursday, Jan 28, 2010

County: Lincoln

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Donald Genthner

Case Updates: 4 update(s) available

A Rockland man was indicted on four counts of felony aggravated animal cruelty and seven counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset April 21.

Donald Genthner, 51, was arrested in January and is alleged to have caused the death of seven horses under his care on a Waldoboro farm last fall.

In total, there were 15 horses under Genthner's care. Along with the bodies of the seven horses, one horse was found in severe pain from malnutrition and an untreated leg problem, Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said at the time of Genthner's arrest. At that time, eight horses, including the horse with the leg problem, were alive and all were recovering nicely once they were transferred to new caretakers.

When they were found, the horses were severely malnourished, according to necropsies conducted on the dead horses at Purdue University in Indiana. The necropsy tested the horses' bone marrow for fat content. A healthy horse should have between 66 and 93 percent fat. One horse tested had 3 percent fat, the other had 5.4 percent.

If Genthner is convicted, aggravated animal cruelty, a Class C Felony, carries a maximum of five years in prison and fines up to $10,000. His arraignment is scheduled for May 27 at 8:30 a.m. in Lincoln County Superior Court.

The indictment came as no surprise to Genthner's attorney, Bob Rubin. "We're just disappointed that they haven't done a full and complete investigation," Rubin said.

Rubin contends that a more thorough investigation would have shown the horses had herpes, which was rampant in Maine at the time, Rubin said. The disease was the cause of the horses' poor condition, not neglect or abuse, Rubin said.

"Mr. Genthner was consulting with a vet at the time, and the vet said that it was probably herpes," Rubin said.

Betsy Piper owns the farm on Chapel Road where the horses were being kept. She was not involved in the abuse and was "nothing but helpful" in the investigation, Labombarde said. "She went above and beyond to make sure these animals were cared for after they were found," he said.

At the time of Genthner's arrest, Piper said that Genthner told her the horses had herpes and he had been consulting with a vet. However, as Piper's concern for the welfare of the horses grew, Genthner had "a plethora of excuses as to why the vet couldn't come," she said.

Piper said even if the horses had herpes, the conditions in which they were living were grossly unsuitable. "If there was six inches of poop, there was a foot," she said. "They were standing in it, both inside and outside the barn."

Genthner is currently out on bail. Following his arrest, his bail conditions mandated that he not own or be in possession of any animals. He is subject to random searches to check for any animals.

Prior to his indictment, those conditions were modified to allow him to live with his family, who owns guinea pigs, turtles and cats, according to court documents filed earlier this month.

The amended bail conditions also allow Genthner to work with and transport animals as long as he is under the direct supervision and presence of the animal's owner.

In the motion to amend bail conditions, the defense argued that Genthner needs to work with animals to support his family, according to the motion, filed on March 31. They went on to point out that the charges Genthner is facing relate to the long-term care of horses. "The proposed activities [in the motion to amend bail conditions] are short term [sic] tasks and will be performed under the direct supervision of the owners," according to the motion.

"He hasn't been found guilty, and he has no criminal history," Rubin said. "He needs to earn a living. The court balanced his need to support his family with protecting the welfare of animals."

Piper was shocked to hear that Genthner's bail conditions were amended.

"I suppose he needs to make a living, but he used to be a landscaper," Piper said. "Go back to mowing lawns."

She was concerned about the fact Genthner is now allowed to care for the Maine Coon cats he has raised on his property for some time. Multiple sources, including Piper, said Genthner has as many as nine coon cats on his property now.

Rubin could not confirm how many or what pets the family has, except to reiterate the motion's description of guinea pigs, turtles and cats.

Piper breeds Maine Coon cats and worked in the same circles as Genthner when he was breeding them. She has had concerns about Genthner's treatment of his cats in the past, she said.

"I'm appalled that the court would do that," Piper said. "Horses died under his care. I'm really quite surprised that anyone would hire him to care for their animals. I probably wouldn't put him in charge of a goldfish."

The district attorney's office had no objection to allowing Genthner to care for his family pets, Rubin said. As Rubin pointed out, there are no allegations that Genthner ever abused small animals.

"It would be punitive to prevent him from living with his family if they have pets," Rubin said. "We want everybody to give Don a chance to be heard, and his chance to do that is in court."

Case Updates

The Rockland man accused of abusing horses on a Waldoboro farm pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of animal abuse Nov. 29 in Lincoln County Superior Court, but will only be sentenced on all five of the counts if he fails to comply with court-imposed conditions for a two-year period.

Donald L. Genthner, about 51, of Rockland was arrested in January after Waldoboro police investigated the deaths of horses on a farm off Chapel Road in Waldoboro.

His attorney Robert Rubin explained that Genthner pleaded guilty on a deferred disposition. As a result, if Genthner does not commit any crimes for the next two years and continues to observe his bail conditions, four of the five counts will be withdrawn.

On the one remaining conviction, if he meets all of the conditions, Genthner will have to pay a $500 fine, under the terms of the plea agreement.

If, on the other hand, he violates his bail conditions or commits any new crimes, he would be sentenced on all five counts.

The conditions ban him from owning any hoofed animals and he cannot work with hoofed animals unless supervised by their owner.

Rubin explained that the deferred disposition refers to crimes of violence or crimes of dishonesty. Traffic or drug violations will not affect the plea agreement.

Rubin said he expects a good outcome, arguing Genthner has no prior history of problems with the law.

The Waldoboro Police Department said in January the charges resulted from the death of three horses and the severe neglect and maltreatment of eight horses. "Investigators believed that Genthner recklessly caused the death of three horses brought on by malnutrition and caused another horse to be in severe pain, brought on by malnutrition and an injured leg that never received medical attention," a police department press release said. "Although four additional horses reportedly died at the property, investigators were unable to determine if the deaths were the result of abuse or if [the horses] died from natural causes."

Police Chief Bill Labombarde said the horses lived in very poor conditions. They were up to their knees in mud and feces in their pen, according to the police chief.

Rubin said all of the felony charges against Genthner have been dismissed.

He said his client is scheduled to appear again in court Nov. 29, 2012, on this issue.

"Don is extremely remorseful for what transpired," Rubin said.

He said this was not a crime that involved intentional abuse of animals and he added that Genthner was not mean to animals. Rubin argued that Genthner fed and watered the animals, but as the weather got cold and rainy, he found himself with limited funds to take care of his family.

In addition, Rubin said there was an epidemic of horse illness at the time and Genthner was in contact by phone with a veterinarian and attempted to treat the horses himself. Unfortunately they did not get better, the attorney said.

Rubin said Genthner's mistake was that he did not turn the horses over to a rescue league.

"He was proud and self-reliant," Rubin said.
Source: - Nov 30, 2010
Update posted on Dec 4, 2010 - 9:43AM 
The case involving a Rockland man accused of mistreating and causing the deaths of several horses in Waldoboro has been continued, which may delay the case going to trial.

51-year-old Donald Genthner has been charged with eleven counts of animal cruelty. Genthner has pleaded not guilty.

Police arrested Genthner in January, after they say he caused the deaths of three horses and also mistreated eight others on a farm in Waldoboro.

Genthner's attorney filed the motion to continue the case, which was expected to go to trial in September.

Genthner's lawyer has also filed a motion to suppress some of the evidence saying his client was questioned by police without first being advised of his miranda rights.
Source: WABI - Aug 27, 2010
Update posted on Aug 30, 2010 - 12:16AM 
The Rockland man accused of causing the deaths of several horses under his care on a Waldoboro farm last fall appeared in Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset July 16 for a pretrial motion to suppress evidence.

Donald Genthner, 51, is charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty, four felony charges and seven misdemeanors. If convicted, felony animal cruelty carries a maximum of five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Genthner and his attorney, Bob Rubin, argued Genthner's rights were violated when he was not instructed of his Miranda Rights during interviews with Waldoboro police as part of their investigation into the horses' deaths.

All evidence gathered as a result of two interviews in December 2009 should not be allowed at trial, Rubin argued.

Detective Lance Mitchell with the Waldoboro Police Dept. took the stand as a witness for the state, and said Genthner was not under arrest when those interviews took place, nor did the police have conclusive knowledge they were going to arrest Genthner during those interviews.

Under U.S. law, unless a suspect is under arrest, police do not need to advise the suspect of their Miranda rights. However, the suspect is free to decline the interview or leave at any time.

Mitchell advised Genthner of that fact, and he availed himself of that right at the conclusion of one of the interviews, Mitchell said. During the interviews, Mitchell also told Genthner, police were investigating the death of the horses under his care, Mitchell said.

Genthner was arrested in mid-January, several weeks after the last time he was interviewed by police.

Rubin argued police knew prior to at least one of the interviews they were going to arrest Genthner, and were therefore required to advise him of his rights prior to interviewing him.

Many statements Genthner made in the second interview helped police decide to arrest him, Mitchell said, but only after they conducted further investigation.

The hearing was continued until 10:30 a.m. July 26 to give Mitchell time to determine whether there is a recording of those interviews.
Source: Lincoln County News Online - July 19, 2010
Update posted on Aug 30, 2010 - 12:15AM 
A Rockland man pleaded not guilty Monday in Lincoln County Superior Court to 11 charges of animal abuse.

Donald L. Genthner, 51, of Rockland owned seven horses that died at a Waldoboro farm where he had kept them, according to police. Lab results sent out by Waldoboro Police Department showed that at least two of the horses died of malnutrition.

The property owner of the farm where the horses were kept called police and an animal control officer last winter to report possible abuse, a police report indicated. Police charged Genthner with four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and seven counts of cruelty to animals. Genthner was arrested Jan. 12 and released from Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset the same day on $10,000 unsecured bond.

According to police, the charges stemmed from “the death of three horses and the severe neglect and maltreatment of eight horses.” There were four additional horses that died after Genthner was charged, but police have not determined if their deaths were caused by any abuse or neglect. According to a press release from the Waldoboro Police Department, three of the four additional horses died from malnutrition and another from a broken leg that never received medical attention.

Police sent bone marrow samples from two of the dead horses on the property to be tested for fat content to determine whether the animals had died from malnutrition. A healthy horse should have a bone marrow fat content of 66 to 90 percent, Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said. Necropsy testing indicated that bone marrow fat content from the two dead horses was in the single digits.

Police were releasing no further details because the investigation is continuing.

Genthner’s next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Aggravated cruelty to animals is a Class C crime carrying a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Cruelty to animals is a Class D crime carrying a maximum fine of $2,000 and less than one year in prison.
Source: Bangor Daily News - May 26, 2010
Update posted on Aug 30, 2010 - 12:14AM 


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