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Sunday, Nov 20, 2005County: Putnam
Defendant/Suspect: Anna Nicole Bruno
Case Updates: 5 update(s) available
A Mahopac woman faces charges of animal cruelty for allegedly beating an 11-year-old horse - by hitting it in the head with a chain. The Putnam County Sheriff's department is charging 20-year-old Anna Nicole Bruno with animal assault. Bruno, the horse's owner, used to ride Colby in equestrian events and has been ranked high in dressage competition by the U.S. Equestrian Association. Sheriff Deputy Barbara Dunn - who also is president of the Putnam County Humane Society - says the attack on the horse was on November 20, 2005 on the Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster. "Apparently she was beaten with an equestrian type of chain-like artifact that [Bruno] used on the horse," Putnam County Undersheriff Peter Convery said.
Bruno and her family declined to comment for this story. Colby is now under the protective custody of Putnam County, which operates the Tilly Foster Farm. "It's our responsibility," Putnam County Deputy Executive Frank Del Campo said, "and we do this willingly to protect this horse and to make sure that the owner does not come on the premises as per the judge's request."
Dunn says a gelding named Colby needed 22 stitches and staples in its forehead and nose from the beating. The deputy says numerous witnesses came forward and gave statements. The sheriff's department says Bruno is free on $250 cash bail pending a court hearing in Southeast Town Justice Court. She is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 11, 2006. If found guilty of animal cruelty, Bruno faces up to a year in jail.
|A lawyer for a family that forfeited their thoroughbred horse Colby in a plea agreement over an animal-abuse charge, wants a town justice to take another look at their motion to reopen the case.|
The Brunos on behalf of their daughter Anna Nicole "Nikki" Bruno filed a notice of appeal last week.
"We want a hearing with respect to the forfeiture and we think one should have been held," said attorney William Goldsand of Brewster. "There are questions of impropriety, one might say possible fraud, and there are valid reasons for the court to have a hearing."
The Brunos said they were unduly influenced to give up the horse by Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy Barbara Dunn, who arrested Nikki Bruno, and is also president of the Putnam Humane Society.
The horse's ownership was at first transferred to the Humane Society but then Colby was adopted by Dunn and her sister, Kathleen Hall Dunn, and moved to a barn in Dutchess County. Barbara Dunn told the Southeast Court in January that she gave up her interest in Colby to Carmel resident Janet Cundari.
In March, Southeast Town Justice James Borkowski said the horse could be transferred from the Dutchess County stable to an animal sanctuary in Colorado paid for by the Brunos and that Nikki Bruno would have no contact with the animal that she was accused of hitting on the face and head with a chain lead in 2005.
Earlier this month, the judge reversed his decision, saying he did not have jurisdiction over a horse being kept outside Southeast or to reopen a forfeiture agreement that was part of a closed criminal case.
William Aronwald of White Plains, who represents Kathleen Hall Dunn and successfully challenged the transfer, said Friday that the Brunos' appeal was without merit.
"It is a waste of everyone's time and resources. Filing does not mean they will go ahead," he said, adding, "If it goes forward, the appellate court will reject it in short order."
Aronwald has said the Brunos are trying to get Colby back since the Colorado farm is run by Diane Benedict, a former owner of Tilly Foster where Colby boarded. The Brunos deny that's their motivation.
Nikki Bruno, who denies hurting her former horse, pleaded guilty to attempted animal cruelty in 2006. Barbara Dunn is under investigation by a special prosecutor and by the Putnam County District Attorney's Office for her handling of animal-abuse cases and has been reassigned to the Sheriff's Office's communications department.
|Source: LoHud.Com - April 23, 2008|
Update posted on Apr 23, 2008 - 1:27PM
|Colby, a thoroughbred gelding who ended up in the hands of the Putnam County sheriff's deputy who arrested his owner on animal cruelty charges, will be heading to a Colorado animal sanctuary.|
Southeast Judge James Borkowski this week signed off on a stipulation allowing the horse's former owner, Anna Nicole Bruno, 22, to have him examined by a Patterson veterinarian known to her family and then, at her expense, be trucked to PAALS for Life, a sanctuary providing lifetime care to senior and disabled animals in Castle Rock, Colo.
The ruling Wednesday requires Sheriff's Deputy Barbara Dunn, who arrested Bruno two years ago and worked out the plea deal involving the horse's forfeiture, to deliver Colby to the Route 22 equine hospital within seven days or face contempt of court charges. She also must relinquish hundreds of dollars of riding equipment, ranging from an Irish knit blanket and brushes to bell boots and leads, which belonged to Bruno and disappeared from Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast where she boarded Colby.
"He is a very special horse," Bruno said yesterday. "I am just glad at this point that he (won't be) in the hands of a woman who is not knowledgeable about the care of animals."
Colby initially was placed in the possession of the Putnam Humane Society, of which Dunn is president, but then was adopted by Dunn personally for a $100, according to her own testimony in another case. The horse is valued at $30,000, according to the Brunos.
Dunn was present at Wednesday's hearing in Southeast Town Court, but waited in the parking lot and declined to comment. She is under investigation by a special prosecutor for her handling of animal abuse cases, and her conduct as a deputy is also being reviewed by the Putnam County District Attorney's Office. Earlier this month, a Kent town justice found that Dunn lied on the stand on several occasions and abused her law enforcement powers during an animal abuse and neglect case involving a Kent dog breeder. The charges were dismissed in that case, based on the judge's finding of Dunn's misconduct.
Dunn alleged that Bruno hit Colby with a chain on the head, causing a swollen eye and gashes requiring 22 stitches. As part of the June 14, 2006, plea agreement, Bruno pleaded guilty to attempted animal cruelty with a single admission that Colby was injured while under her care. She also agreed to give up the horse, believing that it would go to the Humane Society, continue to be boarded at Putnam County-owned Tilly Foster Farm and that she would be able to visit Colby. According to court papers, Bruno and her family did not know at the time that Dunn was president of the Humane Society and said Dunn soon after denied Bruno access to the horse, saying she continued to mistreat the animal.
Bruno, whose family bought Colby at auction when she was 17, and her parents have consistently denied claims of abuse, saying the 12-year-old horse had serious balance issues and hurt his head on the low ceiling of the barn at Tilly Foster.
In a letter, Dunn told the Southeast court that as of January she was no longer Colby's owner. As of yesterday, it was unclear who the owner is or where the horse is being kept.
The Bruno family has said the horse was moved at some point from Tilly Foster to Equine Escape Rescue Ltd. in Millbrook. A woman answering the phone at the Dutchess County farm yesterday said she knew all the horses and did not have one named Colby. The only horse she had that came from the Putnam Humane Society, she said, arrived two months ago, a light brown male named Legend who was crippled and not ridable.
Bruno's mother, Nancy, yesterday said she was relieved that Colby would be far away, where Dunn would no longer have access to or control over him. She had suggested the Colorado site, saying it was "beautiful ... and this is what we want for him." The family alleged in court papers that Dunn attempted to damage Bruno's riding and horse training career by calling the U.S. Equestrian Federation and telling them that Bruno had been arrested for an earlier pepper spray incident with a friend, a case that was adjourned and then dismissed.
Putnam Humane Society attorney David Bernheim attempted to intervene on Dunn's behalf in the Brunos' motion to have the horse returned, but the judge refused, saying Dunn had no standing since she told the court she had transferred ownership.
The agreement was signed by Assistant District Attorney Mary Jane MacCrae. Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy attended a pre-court conference Wednesday.
|Source: LoHud - March 14, 2008|
Update posted on Mar 14, 2008 - 3:01PM
|A Carmel woman was ordered to forfeit her horse and attend anger-management courses after pleading guilty today to misdemeanor animal cruelty for abusing the 12-year-old thoroughbred gelding.|
|Source: The Journal News - June 28, 2006|
Update posted on Jun 28, 2006 - 8:45PM
|Anna Nicole Bruno was scheduled in court on March 8, 2006. However, the case has been ajourned once again to May 10, 2006. The order of protection remains in place for the horse.|
|Source: NY District Attorney - Carmel NY|
Update posted on Mar 25, 2006 - 7:51AM
|A 20-year-old Carmel woman, Anna Nicole Bruno, is due in Southeast Town Court on Feb. 8, 2006 on a misdemeanor cruelty charge. She's accused of striking her horse on the nose with a chain shank, opening wounds that required sutures and staples to close.|
|Source: The Journal News - January 27, 2006|
Update posted on Jan 29, 2006 - 4:55PM
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