Case Snapshot
Case ID: 17561
Classification: Other
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Thomas Velardi
Judge(s): Susan Ashley


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



Saturday, Jan 1, 2011

County: Strafford

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Albert Colburn

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

The owner of Pleasant Valley Farm in Middleton, who was found guilty on 11 counts of animal cruelty last year, was ordered Wednesday to serve 30 days in jail for keeping a dog against a court order.

Albert Colburn, 71, of 98 Route 153, was barred from owning or caring for animals for three years as part of Judge Susan Ashley's ruling following his June 22, 2010 trial in Rochester District Court. Colburn was also issued three consecutive suspended 12-month jail sentences.

Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi said he filed a motion in late February to impose the first of those suspended sentences based on reports from residents who'd witnessed that Colburn, a former Farmington school teacher of 30 years, was keeping a dog in late January and early February.

Velardi said a Middleton police officer later observed the dog at Colburn's residence. Colburn told authorities the dog belonged to someone else, but that he was taking care of it, according to Velardi.

"Judge Ashley was very specific about the terms of the sentence," Velardi said. "I had asked at trial that he shouldn't have animals for the rest of his life, but the judge made her ruling."

Velardi said Ashley ruled on Wednesday to send Colburn to jail for 30 days instead of the full sentence because of his lack of a criminal history outside of the animal cruelty convictions.

Velardi expects Colburn to be on "good time" at Strafford County jail and will likely only serve 20 of the 30 days if he stays on good behavior.

Officials who visited the farm on March 23 and 24, 2010, described the harrowing scene of animal cruelty at the trial last year. Those officials, from former interim Middleton Fire Chief Lon Berry and Middleton police officer Dave Winship Jr., to veterinarians and a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, testified about deplorable conditions.

A variety of animals lived on the farm, including birds, pigs, llamas, dogs and horses. Officials testified they found animals in emaciated states with inadequate food and water. Winship said he found a deceased black lab in a cage that Colburn told him "had been there for a couple months."

Police and firefighters were called to Pleasant Valley Farm to assist with moving a horse that was stuck in the mud. Witnesses said the mud was actually a knee-deep mixture of mud and feces.

Colburn denied neglecting the animals at his trial.

The 11 counts alleged he deprived six German Shorthairs, four horses and one Jack Russell Terrier of necessary shelter, care, food and water.

Animals were rescued from the premises on two occasions. The first came after the March 24 call for assistance and involved Colburn's voluntary surrender of seven dogs and three horses. A second effort to remove animals took place April 2 and involved two llamas, two peacocks, two potbellied pigs, three piglets and five ducks, court documents said.

The second rescue occurred after a March 31 call to police about a pig in the road at Route 153. Police Chief Randy Sobel saw several pigs roaming the property but was unable to make contact with Colburn, court documents said.

SPCA Field Services Manager Steve Sprowl previously described the scene to Foster's as "the worst case of animal cruelty and neglect" he ever saw.

Colburn had sought the return of his animals following his conviction but Velardi said those attempts were eventually dropped. Velardi said it was his understanding that Colburn had paid more than $30,000 in boarding costs to the Cocheco Valley Humane Society and the SPCA as part of his sentence.

Verlardi said Colburn's defense has filed a motion to allow him to have a service dog, but that matter will be taken up at a later date.


Case Updates

A Middleton man found guilty of 11 counts of animal cruelty last year was back in District Court again Friday for a motion to allow him to obtain an emotional service dog.

Albert Colburn, 71, of 98 Route 153, was barred from owning or caring for animals for three years as part of Judge Susan Ashley's ruling following his June 22, 2010 trial in Rochester District Court. Colburn was also issued three consecutive suspended 12-month jail sentences.

The 11 counts of cruelty to animals alleged he deprived six German shorthairs, four horses and one Jack Russell terrier of necessary shelter, care, food and water

Friday, Colburn, a former school teacher in Farmington, appeared in court with his attorney, Erland McLetchie, seeking a motion which would allow him to obtain an emotional service dog after Sept. 1 " after he is scheduled to have hip replacement surgery.

McLetchie argued Colburn is only attempting to obtain only one animal, registered with the National Service Animal Registry, and that Colburn is eligible to do so under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Assistant County Attorney Kate Smykowski objected to the motion, stating "It's the state's belief he is trying anything to get an animal in his possession."

Smykowski argued, as a condition of Colburn's suspended sentences, he is not allowed to be in possession of an animal, and Colburn had violated the condition once already.

Judge Daniel Cappiello has taken the issue under advisement, and did not specify in court when a decision might be made.
Source: fosters.com - Apr 23, 2011
Update posted on Apr 23, 2011 - 12:07PM 

References

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