Bemis and Trapani Sentenced in Kern County, Bemis Also Sentenced in San Bernardino County

Posted on November 21, 2007
Updated on February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011 Update:
The appellate court’s ruling on Bemis and Trapani’s appeal of their Kern County conviction was filed on January 28, 2011 – their conviction was upheld on all counts. Read the Opinion here. (PDF)

Related ALDF blog post: Time Flies, Yet the Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly

May 20, 2009 Update:
Cynthia Bemis and Cynthia Trapani faced a Kern County jury trial and were convicted of felony animal cruelty on May 18, 2009. Bemis was found guilty on 14 counts of felony animal cruelty, Trapani on six counts of felony animal cruelty and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. They were sentenced on July 8, 2009 – both were given jail time, five years probation and fined. Bemis was sentenced to one year in jail, with 91 days credit, and Trapani was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 85 days credit.

Accordingly, all the animals on the Kern County property are at long last being removed by animal control and local rescue groups.

The Kern County probation orders for both defendants include the following conditions:

  • must submit to unannounced searches for animals by any peace officer at any time (without the necessity of a search warrant or probable cause)
  • must not own or be in possession of any animals, or own or make use of any property for the purpose of keeping animals  “regardless of whether defendants remain in Kern County or California”
  • must not “own, possess or operate any internet website relating to animal rescue, sanctuary, or adoption, nor operate any IRC section 501(c)(3) entity, relating to animal rescue, sanctuary or adoption”
  • must complete 100 hours of community service
  • must receive psychiatric or psychological counseling “until successfully terminated by either the provider or the probation officer”
  • must pay restitution toward veterinary care and boarding costs – the total approximating $200,000
  • must pay various court fines and fees  – the total approximating $2,000

The defendants have filed a notice of appeal.

Meanwhile, a hearing date in San Bernardino County’s 2006 case against Cynthia Bemis has been scheduled for January 28, 2010. (UPDATE: An April 6, 2010 plea bargain resulted in Bemis being sentenced to five years probation during which time she is not to be in possession of any animals, must submit to law enforcement inspections, and is to undergo mental health treatment.)

Superior Court of California
San Bernardino County, Criminal Division
Victorville Courthouse
14455 Civic Drive
Victorville, CA  92392
San Bernardino County, Case Information Online
Criminal Case #MVI050452, defendant: Bemis, Cynthia Lee

Please consider writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper
, reminding your community that it is important for local authorities to be educated on the subject of animal hoarding and to coordinate their resources effectively toward meaningful outcomes in these costly and heartbreaking cases.

Additionally, contact your state legislators and encourage them to consider ALDF’s “First Strike and You’re Out” Model Law.  Animal hoarding causes immeasurable suffering and depletes local resources at an alarming rate.

The recidivism rate among animal hoarders being nearly 100%, such legislation would target these vicious cycles of neglect and provide communities with an effective legal means of prevention.

Related Links:
Letter Writing Tips
Animal Hoarding Facts

(Bakersfield, CA)
As of November 2007, Cynthia Bemis is facing numerous animal abuse
charges stemming from separate incidents in Kern County and in San
Bernardino County. Per a Kern County Court order, Bemis is still
allowed to possess many dogs on her property and their status is of
great concern to ALDF as investigators continue to find new evidence of
neglect via court-allowed inspections. While Bemis’ legal schedule is
complicated, the ongoing alleged neglect these dogs are enduring is
simply unacceptable. The terms of Ms. Bemis’ pretrial release need
immediate modification to prohibit her continued possession of animals
while her criminal cases drag on and on.

June 2008 Update:
Now out of jail on bond following her June 6, 2008 arrest, Cynthia
Bemis is facing an additional 14 counts of animal cruelty in Kern
County as per a grand jury indictment.  Also arrested at the Mojave
property was Cynthia Trapani who also faces charges of animal cruelty
as well as charges related to resisting arrest. Authorities seized
eleven emaciated animals from the property on March 4, 2008, but many
animals remain on the property.


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