Case Snapshot
Case ID: 2868
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2004

County: Albany

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 2 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Susan Peters

Case Updates: 11 update(s) available

Susan Peters of Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue Facility in Coeymans has been charged with animal cruelty. From morning until sunset, volunteers with rescue organizations from in and around the Capital Region were on site removing close to 200 animals -- everything from cats and dogs to goats and llamas.

Robert Guyer of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society said, "We're going to have them examined by a vet, the dogs, the cats. We already have found that the cats have feline leukemia, which is a very contagious and fatal disease to cats."

Peters said she's hired a lawyer to fight to get her animals back. Meanwhile, authorities said Peters could face additional charges once all the animals are checked out.

To contact Assistant District Attorney Renee Marges:

Renee Marges, Assistant District Attorney
Office of the Albany County District Attorney
Albany County Courthouse, Room 218
Albany, NY 12207


Case Updates

A Coeymans woman already convicted of animal cruelty at her shelter pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Wednesday to accepting more than $66,000 in Social Security benefits while she claimed she was unable to work.

According to authorities, Susan Peters, 46, not only lied to the federal government that she was "too disabled" to work -- she appealed the decision even after she was initially rejected for the benefits.

Peters pleaded guilty before Judge Frederick J. Scullin to one count of failing to disclose information affecting her right to Social Security payments, a felony. She must pay $66,452 in restitution to the federal government for the money she stole.

While her crime carries up to 5 years in federal prison, both her attorney and federal prosecutors agreed to a sentence that does not include incarceration, citing medical concerns.

Peters, once known as an animal rescuer, was convicted of 18 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in Coeymans Town Court in March 2006. On Oct. 27, 2004, State Police and the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society raided her four-acre shelter on Jarvis Road -- the Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue Facility -- seizing 287 animals.

At trial, local veterinarian Holly Cheever testified the property was home to malnourished animals.

In an October 2002 Times Union article, Peters said she worked overtime hours as an emergency medical technician to pay for the rescue and care of animals, but that back and foot pains had kept her from working -- and that disability pay had ended.

Federal prosecutors would later reveal that Peters, despite being chief executive officer of Cherokee Ridge since 1999, applied for Social Security benefits starting in March 2001.

She claimed she was unable to work while not mentioning her work at the farm.

Her claim was denied that June, but she appealed, concealing her employment at a hearing, prosecutors said.

In August 2006, an administrative law judge found Peters was not entitled to any of the benefit payments she had received.

Peters is scheduled to be sentenced June 25.
Source: Times-Union - March 4, 2010
Update posted on Jul 8, 2010 - 2:49AM 
The case of a Coeymans animal shelter owner accused of animal abuse isn't over just yet. An Albany County Court judge has granted Susan Peters the option of posting bail while an appeal goes through.

Peters was sentenced to 14 months in jail by a Coeymans town judge in March on 18 counts of animal cruelty. She also violated a court order that stopped her from taking in any more animals.

State Police, along with the Humane Society, seized almost 300 animals from her house back in 2004.

But Peters' attorney said his client was unfairly targeted and wants a new trial.
Source: Capital 9 News - June 7, 2006
Update posted on Jun 7, 2006 - 6:30PM 
The owner of a Coeymans animal shelter convicted of animal cruelty is out of jail.

Susan Peters' animal shelter on Jarvis Road was raided in 2004. State police found 287 filthy and malnourished animals. The animals were seized and the court ordered Peters not to have any animals on her property while the case was pending.

She was later charged with criminal contempt for violating that order when someone left a box full of kittens on her doorstep.

Her attorney says she may have been set up.

A county judge Thursday set bail at $20,000, which Peters did meet.
Source: WNYT - June 1, 2006
Update posted on Jun 6, 2006 - 10:02AM 
In March 2006, a jury convicted her on 18 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. A judge sentenced her to one year and 60 days in jail, in addition to three years probation.

Nearly 300 animals were taken from her property in 2004, and witnesses testified that animals were sick, dirty, and malnourished.
Source: Capital News9 - May 19, 2006
Update posted on May 21, 2006 - 11:50AM 
A jury convicted shelter owner Susan Peters on 18 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty March 15, 2006, acquitting her on other cruelty counts and an unlawful burning charge, her lawyer said.

The verdict capped an unusual Town Court trial that grew out of a 2004 raid on Peters' Coeymans animal shelter. The raid was one of the biggest in the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society's recent history. Attorney Kent Sprotbery rested his defense, following a late decision not to call Peters to the stand. His two final witnesses testified that the shelter the prosecution depicted as a cesspit of unhealthy animals appeared to them a normal and sanitary place. Both witnesses helped transport some of the 287 animals seized from Peters' property. What they saw of the facilities wasn't filthy, they said. Animals didn't appear underfed. Bags of food lined the walls. ``It was just a normal place,'' said Linda Brink of Warwick, a horse owner of 30 years. ``I did not see signs of distress.''

Earlier in the trial, a veterinarian who accompanied authorities on the raid cataloged a gruesome animal-by-animal list of illness, malnutrition and filth. Peters faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine for each animal cruelty charge. On March 14, 2006, she pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt for violating an order not to have animals on her property.
Source: Times Union News - March 16, 2006
Update posted on Mar 20, 2006 - 5:02AM 
A prosecution witness depicted nauseating scenes of sick, filthy and malnourished dogs, horses and pigs as the animal-cruelty trial of shelter owner Susan Peters opened in Town Court on March 7, 2006.
Peters, 42, faces 28 animal-cruelty misdemeanor charges that arose from an Oct. 27, 2004, raid on her Coeymans shelter, the Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue Facility. State Police and the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society seized 287 animals from the 4-acre property on Jarvis Road, one of the biggest raids in the humane society's recent history. The opening of what could be a weeklong trial with testimony from up to 40 witnesses -- unusual for a Town Court -- revolved around the graphic account of a veterinarian who accompanied authorities on the raid. Holly Cheever, who has a practice in Guilderland, described a glaucoma-suffering German shepherd whose eye had grown into a painful mass of blood. She spoke of horses fed cupcakes and chocolate doughnuts. She recalled insufficiently sheltered animals facing imminent death from the coming winter. Perhaps the worst image: a dead baby goat whose body appeared to have lain unburied for two or three days. "If this was supposed to be where the public comes to pet animals, this would not be a very savory sight," said Cheever, the second witness Albany County Assistant District Attorney Renee Z. Merges called as she argued that Peters failed to provide adequate care.

Defense counsel Kent Sprotbery, meanwhile, declared his client not guilty of animal cruelty. He portrayed the animal shelter as "a community of caring" in his opening remarks to the jury. Sprotbery told jurors that members of the community volunteered at the facility, shoveling horse manure, grazing animals and wiping mucus out of cats' eyes. Getting food and water and veterinary care to a growing stable of animals was a daily challenge, he said. The growth led the shelter to consider buying more land. Peters would sometimes wake up and find new cats deposited on her doorstep overnight, he said. Now, a property that once housed horses, iguanas, snakes, llamas, chickens and a monkey has been reduced to a single animal: Peters' dog. In a brief interview before the trial, Peters said osteoarthritis had left her unable to work. She said the raid and the attention it drew affected her children. "They grew up with animals," she said. "They don't understand this. All of a sudden, mommy's a bad guy."

Each of the 28 animal cruelty charges carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine, Sprotbery said. Peters also faces one count of unlawful burning of trash and another of criminal contempt. The trial's stress brought Peters to tears during one break.
Source: Times Union News - March 8, 2006
Update posted on Mar 12, 2006 - 10:21AM 
The trial began on Monday, Jan 23, 2006. Several humane agencies and veterinarians have been called in to testify on Wednesday.
Update posted on Jan 24, 2006 - 8:02AM 
The woman who runs Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue will not get her animals back. Albany Judge Stephen Herrick just said "no" to Sue Peters' appeal. A Coeymans Court forfeited Peters' 200-plus animals to the Mohawk and Hudson Humane Society. That's after she did not come up with an 18-thousand dollar bond to pay for their care. Investigators raided Cherokee Ridge in October and charged Peters with animal cruelty. The Humane Society either adopted out - or euthanized - the animals. Peters insists she did nothing wrong and will fight the criminal charges.
Source: CBS 6 Albany - March 17, 2005
Update posted on May 24, 2005 - 11:06PM 
Sue Peters is appealing a Town of Coeymans court decision that forfeited her animals to the humane society.

Peters had not come up with an 18-thousand dollar bond to pay for the animals care - so the Mohawk and Hudson Humane Society put the 200-plus animals out to new homes through adoption. Investigators seized the animals from Cherokee Ridge in October - and charged Peters with animal cruelty. Her attorney says these are two different cases:

Bjorn Holubar/Peters' Attorney: "One is the criminal contentions - the other is the civil forfeiture of these animals...without even being found guilty at this point. She's still being penalized."

Sue Peters/Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue: "A lot of these animals were there because there was no place for them to go...another place would have meant euthanization."

Peters insists she treated the animals well - and will fight the animal cruelty charges. Her attorney will be filing more information with the court to get her animals back.
Source: WRGB - Jan 17, 2005
Update posted on Jan 18, 2005 - 6:15AM 
The owner of a local animal rescue facility was back in court on Monday, Dec 20. Susan Peters pleaded not guilty last Thursday (Dec 16) to charges she endangered the lives of nearly 300 animals in her care at the Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue facility in Coeymans.

Now, the judge has ordered her to pay an $18,000 bond for the cost of keeping the animals in a foster home. If she does not post the bond within five days, the animals will be forfeited to the Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society.

About 270 animals, including horses, cats, llamas and chickens, were taken from Peters' care on Oct. 27.
Source: Capital News 9 - Dec 20, 2004
Update posted on Dec 29, 2004 - 1:53PM 
Hundreds of animals are on the road to recovery following the arrest of their caretaker.

On Wednesday, Susan Peters of Cherokee Ridge Animal Rescue was charged with animal cruelty, and more charges may be on the way. The Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society is now caring for the animals taken from Peters, and their condition is said to be improving.

While Peters will fight to get her animals back, representatives at the Humane Society said they will do everything to prevent that from happening.
Source: Capital News 9 - Oct 28, 2004
Update posted on Oct 28, 2004 - 8:19PM 

References

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