Case Snapshot
Case ID: 3613
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull)
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Person(s) in animal care
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Jim McGee
Defense(s): Edi Faal
Judge(s): Ingrid Uhler


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



Sunday, Jan 16, 2005

County: San Bernardino

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendants/Suspects:
» Charlotte Spadaro
» Jonathan Spadaro - Dismissed

Case Updates: 9 update(s) available

A neighbor's report of a strong odor led police to a freezer in a house owned by former Beverly Hills Mayor Charlotte Spadaro. Police called to the home discovered it was a house filled with dogs. Spadaro stayed in the brown stucco house only occasionally.

Authorities said the body of a Great Dane had been placed in a garage freezer.

Spadaro, who was determined to open an animal rescue facility, looked to San Bernardino County to find an affordable location. Spadaro and some investors settled on a location in Fontana, but they outgrew that shelter in 2002 and moved to the Rialto home on South Acacia Avenue.

Police officers were called in Sunday after a neighbor -- Org's Kennel owner Barbara Org -- reported a strong stench.

Spadaro said she did not remember when the Great Dane died and was stuffed into the garage freezer, and she was not sure how many other dogs were in the freezer when it failed during the weekend. A man stopped by once per day to feed the 100 or so canines.

Police and county health officials entered with oxygen masks, Lt. Tony Farrar said.

Spadaro, a real estate lawyer who described herself as an animal activist who cannot bear to see dogs suffer, said she wanted to bury the Great Dane in the backyard but had not prepared a ceremony.

There did not appear to be anything wrong with the 100 live canines, authorities said

"I feel God sent me these dogs and I am going to take care of these dogs and do my best. If I have to go to the Supreme Court to fight for these dogs, I will," said Spadaro, who was mayor of Beverly Hills in 1986.

Sgt. Paul Wing said police began investigating Spadaro's rescue operation several months ago after receiving numerous neighbor complaints. Spadaro has a permit to operate a kennel within city limits and there is no limit on the number of dogs on site.

Investigators said animal cruelty charges could be filed.


Case Updates

Charlotte Spadaro, a former Beverly Hills mayor who describes herself as an animal activist, will be limited to having three dogs as part of her probation in an animal cruelty case.

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Ingrid A. Uhler today sentenced Spadaro, 69, for one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, stemming from an animal rescue she ran in 2005 in Rialto. Authorities said at the time that the facility was unsanitary and filthy with animal waste.

Spadaro was sentenced to three years' probation and 250 hours of community service, and she must pay $180 in fines and remove all animals from her care, though she can keep three dogs if they are vaccinated, licensed and spayed or neutered, said San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Jim McGee.

She will also be evaluated for animal hoarding and potentially get counseling. She has said she takes in animals to prevent them from being euthanized at other shelters, and she disputes that she ever mistreated an animal.

Spadaro still has two pending animal cruelty cases based on other incidents, one in Riverside County and one in San Bernardino County.
Source: pe.com - Mar 22, 2011
Update posted on Mar 22, 2011 - 9:20PM 
A self-described animal activist and former Beverly Hills mayor has been convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty in San Bernardino County.

The Press-Enterprise of Riverside says jurors found Charlotte Spadaro guilty of one misdemeanor count on Thursday.

Prosecutors alleged Spadaro kept about 180 dogs and cats in unsanitary conditions and didn't provide them with proper care from Sept. 2004 to May 2005 at a Rialto home that she used as a rescue shelter. She initially was charged with a felony count of animal cruelty, but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor before trial and a charge of destroying evidence was dropped.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 22.
Source: SF Gate - Feb 10, 2011
Update posted on Feb 14, 2011 - 11:44AM 
Officials in Riverside say they rescued 24 dogs Friday from a home belonging to former Beverly Hills Mayor Charlotte Spadaro, a self-described animal rescuer.

Riverside County Department of Animal Services personnel said the animals they found under Spadaro's care were in need of rescue.

Authorities say 24 dogs, a cat and her four kittens were taken from the property on Myers Street, near Van Buren Boulevard.

Captain Tammie Belmonte said, "No animal should have to live like this. There was feces everywhere."

Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said Spadaro, 68, owns the property and animal control has been monitoring her for as long as two years.

Belmonte described the smell inside the property as "overwhelming."

Many of the rescued dogs are puppies and Belmone says many of them have mange.

Spadaro faces animal cruelty charge in San Bernardino County for allegedly keeping dozens of animals in unsanitary conditions.

Officials shut an unlicensed kennel Spadaro operated in February 2009. She was charged with 242 misdemeanor counts of violating the city's dog licensing laws.
Source: Pet-Abuse.Com - Case ID #16321
Update posted on Apr 26, 2010 - 2:51AM 
Former Beverly Hills mayor and self-described animal activist Charlotte Spadaro is facing a slew of citations and a criminal charge related to a kennel in San Bernardino County where she keeps dogs.

Spadaro was arraigned on one felony count of animal cruelty Tuesday in San Bernardino County Superior Court. A trial readiness conference is set for July.

That same month, Spadaro is scheduled to be tried on a 2005 animal cruelty charge stemming from an animal rescue operation she ran in Rialto. In that case, officials said there were filthy conditions in the house where more than 180 dogs and cats were being kept.

Officials with the San Bernardino County district attorney's office and the county's animal control division would not discuss details of the latest charge. Brian Cronin, division chief for San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control, declined to comment because his agency is involved in civil and criminal cases with Spadaro.

Spadaro could not be reached for comment Tuesday. She has said she rescues animals that would be euthanized at other shelters, and last year she described the 2005 case as "based on a false police report."

In mid-2009, Spadaro and more than 200 dogs were evicted from a Riverside kennel when the owners stopped paying the mortgage. Last year in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, she was issued nearly 600 citations for allegedly having unlicensed or unvaccinated dogs, court records show.
Source: InlandSocal - March 30, 2010
Update posted on Mar 31, 2010 - 12:36AM 
Firm February trial dates were set this morning for a former Beverly Hills mayor charged with animal cruelty involving 184 dogs and cats seized at her Rialto rescue shelter three years ago.

Charlotte Spadaro, 67, faces a maximum of six months in jail and a $20,000 fine if convicted on the misdemeanor, San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Jim McGee said.

A judge also could bar her from owning or controlling any animals, he said.

Spadaro's criminal case began May 12, 2005, when Rialto officials served a search warrant at 732 S. Acacia Ave., where Spadaro was running an animal-rescue operation, court documents say.

"Animal control officers observed the house was filthy with animal feces, diarrhea and vomit as well as rodent droppings," court records said. "There were about 45 adult cats and kittens in one bedroom of the house."

The animals were returned to Spadaro three weeks later, and she was billed nearly $28,000 for the personnel costs of collecting the animals plus veterinary and shelter expenses.

Her three-year legal quest to recoup that money ended Feb. 19 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected her petition.

This morning, Superior Court Judge Ingrid Uhler accommodated busy attorney and courtroom schedules when she set trial for Feb. 9.

"Based on the age of this case, a few extra months won't make a difference," Uhler said. "That's not to say this isn't a very serious case."

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Outside the Fontana courtroom, McGee, as well as Spadaro's attorney Edi Faal, declined to discuss a plea offer formally withdrawn moments earlier.

McGee said the case has gone on long enough.

"We tried to resolve it without a trial," McGee said. "But Ms. Spadaro wanted a trial. I'm happy to give her one. I'm looking forward to trying the case."

Faal declined to comment.

Spadaro, also an attorney, declined to comment as well.

She served on the Beverly Hills City Council for four years and was the city's mayor from March 1986 to March 1987.
Source: Press-Enterprise - Oct 10, 2008
Update posted on Oct 11, 2008 - 12:45AM 
Charlotte Spadaro will appear in court on animal cruelty charges next on March 16, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. The charges stem from an incident in January 2005, when authorities allegedly discovered her house "filled with dogs", including the body of a Great Dane that had been placed in a garage freezer.
Source: Case # FVA024866
Update posted on Feb 14, 2007 - 8:58PM 
Charlotte Spadaro will appear next in court for a pre-trial conference on February 9, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. at the San Bernardino County Courthouse - Fontana Branch, located at 17780 Arrow Hwy, Fontana, CA 92335. Charges against Jonathan Spadaro have been dismissed.
Source: Case # FVA024866
Update posted on Feb 5, 2007 - 6:48PM 
Charlotte Spadaro will be arraigned Thursday, when she and son Jonathan Spadaro will have a preliminary hearing date set. Jonathan Spadaro pleaded not guilty to both counts July 13. Charlotte Spadaro said she will do the same.

The Spadaros face cruelty charges based in part on the testimony of a veterinary technician, who responded in September to an advertisement for help in the kennels.

"The individual saw dogs biting each other, tearing each other apart, stuck in fences, bleeding, not fed, not cared for," Deputy District Attorney James McGee said. "It is pretty dramatic."

The city has monitored Spadaro for a variety of code violations since January, when a neighbor called to complain about an odor from the house.

When authorities arrived, they found animals overcrowded and without water, food on the ground, dead animals decomposing, and rampant infection and disease, McGee said.

Spadaro then scheduled a city inspection for Feb. 2. The day before the inspection, Jonathan Spadaro rented a Penske van and filled it with 100 to 150 animal carcasses, McGee said.

Jonathan Spadaro left the van parked on a street in Riverside, McGee said. Riverside County sheriff's deputies found the van, which began to smell, several days later.

The van incident is the basis for the concealment of evidence charge, McGee said.

On May 12, Rialto officials raided the house. They confiscated about 184 dogs and cats, many of them underweight or sick.

Spadaro said the accusations are vindictive, the product of personal grudges. She declined to elaborate.

"Mine was a very nice kennel, a beautiful kennel. There is no merit to these charges," she said. "The animals were in excellent condition. Everyone who is unbiased has said that."

Rialto Deputy City Attorney Kathy Gandara said a hearing officer later said the city was justified in confiscating the animals.

"He determined that the seizure was valid," Gandara said.

The officer returned Spadaro's animals because she assured him that she would keep the dogs and cats in an appropriate kennel, and not bring them back to her Rialto house.

"The city did not make the decision to return those animals," Gandara said.

Charlotte Spadaro said the animals are in private boarding facilities and are doing well.

McGee said Charlotte and Jonathan Spadaro could face penalties ranging from probation to three years in prison if convicted.

The maximum sentence is "highly unlikely," he said.

"The complaint is one of gross negligence," McGee said. "In all, the cruelty charge is from just too many animals not being fed, no medical attention or the treatments they needed. Too many dying," he said. "It's more about the care she provided."
Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin - Aug 23, 2005
Update posted on Aug 24, 2005 - 7:55AM 
Responding to neighbor complaints about a home's stench, authorities removed 135 dogs and 30 cats from a urine- and feces-soaked home where a rotting Great Dane was found earlier in a malfunctioning freezer.

Charlotte Spadaro, a former mayor of Beverly Hills, had been rescuing animals for three years and kept them at her South Acacia Avenue home. Authorities monitoring the residence since discovering the Great Dane in January finally got a search warrant to remove the animals Thursday.

"I think the city is out to have them massacred," Spadaro said.

But police Lt. Joe Cirilo said the house was a health hazard for its occupants, neighbors and the animals. After a neighbor complained months ago about the smell and noise at the house, officials found the decomposing corpse of a Great Dane in a malfunctioning freezer.

"At some point we have to draw the line," Cirilo said. "That's why we're here to seek proper care for these animals."

A city inspection was scheduled for Feb. 2 because of the Great Dane discovery. A day before the inspection, Spadaro loaded a rental van with 2,000 pounds of animal carcasses and parked it on a street in Riverside, authorities said.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies found the van, which had begun to stink, several days later.

City Attorney Kathy Gandara said the city has tried to work with Spadaro and conducted periodic inspections.

"She is not willing or able to comply," Gandara said. "This is a last resort for the city."

The animals removed from the home Thursday were taken to the Devore Animal Shelter for examination by a veterinarian. Spadaro has 10 days to request a procedural hearing to determine whether the city was justified in removing the animals.

Spadaro said she runs a legitimate kennel for rescued dogs and cats and the city's action Thursday was illegal.

"I think Rialto has been persecuting me, frankly," Spadaro said.
Source: SFgate.Com - May 13, 2005
Update posted on May 13, 2005 - 6:17PM 

References

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