Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16898
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), bird (pet), rodent/small mammal (pet), rabbit (pet)
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Child or elder neglect
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Judge(s): Harry J. Jacob III

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Friday, Aug 13, 2010

County: Cuyahoga

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 3 files available

» Steven Friedman
» Heidi Friedman

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

The city took three birds, a rabbit and 33 dogs, puppies, cats and guinea pigs from a Wagon Wheel Drive home. All but a parakeet were euthanized.

Steven Friedman, 58, a podiatrist, and his wife, Heidi, 48, who abandoned the animals in their feces-filled home in the 33500 block of Wagon Wheel Drive, are charged with 39 counts of animal cruelty and two counts of child endangering, police said.

According to the police report:

The Friedmans' neighbor called police Friday to say the couple and their three children had gone on vacation Aug. 2, leaving the house closed up and the air conditioner off. Temperatures were close to 90.

Despite the closed windows, police and two animal wardens could smell feces, urine and ammonia, and fleas jumped onto their clothing in the yard. The longtime neighbor said he had never seen the dogs in the yard. Officers looked in the windows and saw dogs sitting on tables.

A sergeant reached the Friedmans by telephone and was given permission to enter the house using the garage door code. Animal Warden Steve Suder entered the house and came back out saying respirators and protective clothing were needed. Solon firefighters brought their hazardous materials gear to the home.

The warden and two officers entered and found the rooms strewn with clothes and dog feces. There was a child's wading pool in the front room that held brown water. They videotaped and photographed the scene.

"Every room in the house from the second-floor bedrooms to the basement had animal feces on the floor and on the furniture," Patrolman Brad Lender wrote. "The second-floor master bedroom had a few inches of dog feces packed down on the floor."

City Building Department official Charlie Boshane declared the house unsanitary and uninhabitable. He placed a "No Occupancy" sign on it. Police contacted the county child welfare agency to report the conditions that the Freidman daughters had been living in. They are 20, 16 and 15. A 22-year-old brother had moved out.

Initially, the officers found 23 puppies and dogs, six living cats, two dead cats, two guinea pigs, a rabbit and three birds. The warden said the Friedmans surrendered the animals by phone. Two more dogs were surrendered later.

The city called the Solon Veterinary Clinic on Richmond Road, took all of the animals there and told Dr. Don Bartels to euthanize them because they were abandoned and had fleas, Bartels said today. He said the animals were mixed breeds that had not been groomed. He said one parakeet was spared because the warden had found it a home.

The city said it did not order that the animals be killed, but that Friedman spoke to Bartels and agreed to have them euthanized and pay for it. The city is not being billed for the euthanasias, Assistant Chief Ray Tittl said.

Officers were sent to the house again Sunday afternoon and found that the family had returned during the night. Steven Friedman claimed that Sgt. Dale Bunjevac had given him permission to be in the house. Bunjavac said he had not. The family were told to go to the police station for questioning. They met with the prosecutor and made other living arrangements. Children services was told where the family would be living.

Friedman said the family had gone to Boynton Beach, Fla., to help his mother-in-law after the death of his father-in-law. Records confirm the death.

He said he left open bags of pet food and the baby pool of water for the animals. He also said the family had accumulated too many animals, had financial difficulties (pdf) and couldn't afford to surrender the animals. He told police that there was another dog in the house. A neighbor said they returned from Florida with it. It was surrendered and euthanized.

Heidi Friedman told police that she had bad knees and could only climb the steps to the bedrooms once a day. She signed a statement saying the house was not in bad condition when she left for Florida. The couple said they slept in the master bedroom.

Police would not say where the family is staying, so they could not be reached for comment.

The neighbors, reached by phone today, said they should have called authorities sooner, but the Friedmans had been very nice to them. They also said that the children smelled foul when they played outside.

Heidi Friedman was arrested Tuesday. Police had not located her husband as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Case Updates

A Solon couple is serving 14 days in jail--which they will be billed for--as part of a plea agreement reached in an animal cruelty case. That case involved 39 animals found in squalid conditions on Wagon Wheel Drive last summer.

Steven Friedman, 58, and his wife Heidi, 48, pleaded guilty April 6 to three counts, each, of cruelty to animals. The other 36 counts were dropped. Two counts each of child endangerment were dismissed.

They began serving their jail sentences April 7 on a work-release schedule.

In addition to fining the Friedmans more than $2,000 each, Bedford Municipal Court Judge Harry Jacobs also ordered that they each pay the cost of their incarceration, about $900 each.

They will serve three years of active probation, which includes terms prohibiting them from having minor children and pets living in their home, according to John Garmone, chief deputy clerk at Bedford Municipal Court.

The Friedmans were out of town in August during a heat wave when a neighbor heard dogs barking inside and noticed the air conditioning was not working.

Authorities were notified, and the animals had to be euthanized. The house was declared uninhabitable, but has since been cleaned.

Two children who were living in the home are staying with relatives in Florida.
Source: Cleveland.Com - April 14, 2011
Update posted on Apr 14, 2011 - 12:40PM 
Solon residents Steven and Heidi Friedman can return to their Wagon Wheel Drive home as it was declared "habitable" by the health department in a pre-trial hearing Wednesday in Bedford Municipal Court. But there are conditions to their return.

According to the court's Chief Deputy Clerk John Garmone, the Friedmans cannot have any animals in the home nor any minor children.

But Judge Harry J. Jacob III allowed the Friedmans to visit their daughters who have been living with relatives in Florida. No trial date has been set.

Police allege that last summer, Steven Friedman, 58, a podiatrist, and his wife, Heidi, 48, abandoned three birds, a rabbit and 33 dogs, puppies, cats and guinea pigs in their feces-filled home when they and their three daughters -- ages 20, 15 and 16 -- went out of town on an extended trip to Boynton Beach, Florida.

They also have a 22-year-old son who did not live in the home.

All of the animals except a parakeet had to be euthanized.

Read WKYC Aug. 17 article

The couple is charged with 39 counts of animal cruelty and two counts of child endangering. Both are represented by attorney Edward W. Rausch and oth have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

On Aug. 13, a neighbor called police and reported that the couple and their three children had gone on vacation Aug. 2, leaving the windows closed and the air conditioner off, even as the outside temperature rose to 90 degrees.

When police arrived, officres and two animal wardens could smell feces, urine and ammonia outside the house, and saw that fleas were jumping on their clothes outside in the yard.

Police called the Friedmans and were given permission to enter the house by using the garage door code. One officer made it into the home but immediately got out, saying that it was too dangerous to enter.

In the end, Solon firefighters brought their HAZMAT gear to use to enter the home and remove the animals.
Source: - Nov 17, 2010
Update posted on Nov 19, 2010 - 9:25AM 


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