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|Prosecutor(s):|| Blair Melling|
|Defense(s): ||Gregory Scott Robey, Michael Anthony Sanson|
|Judge(s):|| Harry Jacob III | CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Saturday, May 8, 2010County: Cuyahoga
Case Images: 5 files available
» Sandra J. Plato
» James Eafford
Case Updates: 3 update(s) available
Animal-cruelty charges are pending against two horse owner-caretakers in Orange, police Lt. Patrick O'Callahan said Tuesday.
The renter of a house on the Brainard Road property told Orange police May 8 that she saw one of the 10 horses repeatedly fall down in the mud, and it appeared that the animals were not fed in a long time. Several horses' ribs were showing due to being underfed, police said, and two of them were chewing on a broken-down, wood fence. There were no signs of food or water for any of the animals inside or outside the barn, police said. The floors to each individual stall contained mounds of horse manure, they said.
There also were 30 to 40 chickens, chicks and a rooster running free on the property, police said.
Mr. O'Callahan and animal-control services suggested calling representatives from Thistledown Race Track in North Randall for their expertise in the matter.
There is hope that most of the horses will become healthy again, Orange Police Chief Christopher Kostura said, due to the proactive approach by David Elsworth, of Thistledown Race Track, and his crew of 10 helpers.
Along with officers from Greg Miller Animal Control Services, which contracts with Orange Village, and the village service department, the Thistledown team fed and watered the horses, mended the rotted wood fences, and removed truckloads of manure with a front loader, Mr. O'Callahan said. A veterinarian checked the horses, he said, and blankets were laid on some of the horses to keep them warm.
Thistledown is working on placing the horses as soon as they are healthy enough to move, police said.
Sandra Plato, 68, of Parma, who said she owned four of the horses, told police she was last at the barn on May 2.
James Eafford, 68, of Parma, who identified himself as the caretaker, disputed the condition of the horses with animal-control officer Bill Bullard. Mr. Eafford, by request, went to the station to give a statement, police said.
He and Ms. Plato are to be charged with second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, Mr. O'Callahan said. Each could face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 per charge, one for each horse they either own or are responsible for caring for. The ownership of all of the horses is still being determined, he said.
The owner of the property, Alan Michaels, of Orange, leased the barn and pastures to the horse owners-caretakers. The village building inspector was to identify code violations Tuesday and whether there were too many horses on the 4-acre property.
The conditions were deplorable, police Sgt. Nick DiCicco and patrolman Robert Rosic said. Seven horses were found in two separate corrals without access to the barn for shelter, police said.
The horse manure ranged from at least a foot deep in the front of the stalls to 3 feet in the back of the stalls, police said. The chicken coop was nonfunctional, they said. On the west side of the property, a wheelbarrow held a portion of the fence intact, police said.
Mr. Kostura and Mr. O'Callahan said they were extremely grateful to Mr. Elsworth and Thistledown for being instrumental in taking charge of the situation and helping the animals.
Mr. Elsworth could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
|A race horse trainer was found guilty of cruelty to the thoroughbreds in her care and was sentenced this month in Bedford Municipal Court.|
Sandra Plato, of Cleveland, spent five days in jail, followed by 15 days of house arrest that ends Saturday. She must serve five years of probation.
Judge Harry Jacob III also ordered her to get a mental health evaluation and relinquish her state trainer's license. She is barred from having horses, but can own two cats or dogs.
Codefendant James Eafford, 69, of Parma, was convicted in November and ordered to pay $2,740 in restitution. The judge also sentenced Eafford to five years of probation and suspended his trainer's license for six months. Eafford can keep two horses as long as he shows veterinary reports to his probation officer every six months.
Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna took in eight of Plato and Eafford's 10 starving, lice-infested horses confiscated in May from a barn in Orange.
Four of the thoroughbreds couldn't be saved.
Sheila Collins, of Solon, is one of the animal activists who attended Plato's sentencing.
"There was no denying the fact that four horses suffered and died. There was no denying the pictures of that suffering," Collins said, "but there was justice in Judge Jacob's courtroom this day."
Happy Trails director Annette Fisher said; "Though I feel the sentence was just and fair considering Ohio's weak cruelty law, there is nothing that can alleviate what the horses went through or bring back the dead ones."
The rehabilitated horses are available for adoption: happytrailsfarm.org, 330-296-5914.
|Source: cleveland.com - Mar 24, 2011|
Update posted on Mar 27, 2011 - 8:40PM
|Oral hearings are scheduled for Aug. 13 in Bedford Municipal Court in an animal-cruelty case involing 10 horses in Orange Village. But one of the defendants was arrested early Tuesday on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear for a previous court date.|
Sandra Plato, 48, of Parma, was charged with eight counts of cruelty to animals following a May 8 incident in which a renter living on the Brainard Road farm property told Orange police she saw a horse repeatedly fall in the mud and that it appeared the 10 horses had not been fed in a long time.
Orange police arrested Ms. Plato at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Thistledown Race Track in North Randall. She posted a $10,000 bond Tuesday and released from the Bedford Heights Jail.
Ms. Plato has pleaded not guilty to the charges. She is represented by attorney Caryn Groedel. Her case has been assigned to Judge Harry J. Jacob III.
James Eafford, 68, of Parma, who identified himself to police as a caretaker, also was charged with second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, police said. He pleaded not guilty to two charges, one for each horse under his care, according to court records. His attorney is Michael Anthony Sanson.
Each suspect could face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 per charge, one for each horse either owned and/or was responsible for caring for, Orange police Lt. Patrick O'Callahan said.
Several horses' ribs were showing, there were no signs of food or water for the animals inside or outside the barn, and there were piles of horse manure ranging from a least 1 foot deep to 3 feet, according to the police report. The conditions were deplorable, police said.
Orange police said they have statements from witnesses and a report from veterinarian Ray Hephner, who donated his medical expertise and time, along with a rehabilitation plan.
Volunteers who helped with taking care of the horses are circulating a petition, because they said they are concerned about the charges being dropped.
"It is important to us that Eafford and Plato not only make restitution for their crimes against animals, but that they are discouraged or prevented from doing so again," according to the petition that was sent to Orange Village Prosecutor Blair Melling, village officials, Bedford Court Magistrate Joseph Pfundstein and Judge Jacob, among others.
David Elsworth, of Thistledown Race Track in North Randall, and his crew were instrumental in the care of the horses following the incident, Orange Police Chief Christopher Kostura has said.
Happy Trails Animal Sanctuary, of Ravenna, has worked to help place the horses with proper care.
|Source: chagrinvalleytimes.com - Aug 4, 2010|
Update posted on Mar 27, 2011 - 8:27PM
|The outpouring of support and care for 10 horses found sick and living in deplorable conditions on a farm in Orange Village has been amazing, according to Orange Police Chief Christopher Kostura.|
He credited David Elsworth, of Thistledown Race Track in North Randall, with stepping up to the plate when police had nowhere to house the animals or care for them.
Second-degree animal-cruelty charges were filed last week against Sandra Plato, 48, and James Eafford, 68, of Parma, both of Parma. Each faces up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 per charge, one for each horse they either own or are responsible for caring for, police said.
The horses were moved two weeks ago to a property in Warrensville Heights owned by Jill and Marvin Decker, of Ridgewood Transportation, where a temporary facility was installed, Mr. Elsworth said. The Deckers volunteered to give daily care to the horses, he said.
Warrensville Heights officials worked overtime to make it all work, he said. City Council held a special emergency meeting to grant approval for a three-week temporary facility so the horses could be cared for and become healthy enough to be transported to foster and rescue agencies, he said. Chagrin Valley Hunt Club, of Gates Mills, donated temporary stalls for the horses, he said.
All the horses are responding to care and treatment, he said. It was touch and go for awhile for a couple of the horses, but the animals now all appear to be improving, Mr. Elsworth said.
So many people have gone beyond the call of duty, he said. Veterinarian Ray Hephner laid out a rehabilitation plan and has given his medical expertise and time.
Richard Zielinski, of Garrison Turf Shop, has donated feed, Mr. Elsworth said.
On May 9, the renter of a house on the Brainard Road property told Orange police that she saw one of the 10 horses repeatedly fall down in the mud, and it appeared that the animals were not fed in a long time. Several horses' ribs were showing due to being underfed, police said, and two of them were chewing on a broken-down wood fence.
There were no signs of food or water for any of the animals inside or outside the barn, police said. The floors to each individual stall contained mounds of horse manure, they said. The horse manure ranged from at least a foot deep in the front of the stalls to 3 feet in the back of the stalls, police said. The chicken coop was nonfunctional, they said. On the west side of the property, a wheelbarrow held a portion of the fence intact, police said.
Orange Village police also deserve credit, Mr. Elsworth said, for the job they did bringing the situation to light.
Along with officers from Greg Miller Animal Control Services, which contracts with Orange Village, and the village service department, the Thistledown team fed and watered the horses, mended the rotted wood fences and removed truckloads of manure with a front-end loader, Orange police Lt. Patrick O'Callahan said.
|Source: chagrinvalleytimes.com - Jun 02, 2010|
Update posted on Mar 27, 2011 - 8:23PM
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