‘Patty’s Angels’ Found Guilty of 38 Animal Neglect Counts

Posted on May 4, 2005

10/12/2005 – SENTENCED! Patty Aline Abezis and
Tracey Ann Pennington have been sentenced to probation for 3 years with
unannounced inspection rights, fofeiture of all animals, prohibited
form owning or caring for more than 2 animals for life, mental health
evaluations, and 40 hours of community service. An $80,000 restitution
is requested by the Assistant District Attorney and Gerard Van Loan.
Abezis is appealing the case.

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(Ulster County, New York) The patience and persistence of concerned citizens in Ulster
County finally paid off when a jury in the town of Rochester Justice
Court found Patty Aline Abezis guilty of 38 criminal counts of animal
neglect, and an assistant guilty of six counts. However, sentencing for
Abezis and Tracey Ann Pennington has been postponed yet again,
following an August 3 defense motion hearing to set aside the verdict
based on juror misconduct. The judge granted the defense’s request to
review the transcript of the hearing and brief the issues before a
decision is rendered and gave them until September 1st to submit
briefs. Judge Al Babcock said he would make a decision on September
14th and go forward with sentencing at that time if he denied the
motion; the sentencing has been pushed back again, to mid-October.
Please write to Judge Al Babcock and urge him to sentence Abezis, order
forfeiture of all animals, and put those animals into capable hands!

"Now that a jury has convicted Ms. Abezis on all 38 counts of neglect,
the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) will be watching to ensure the
judge does the right thing at sentencing by prohibiting her from having
any more animals, since she was found to have failed to provide even a
minimum level of care for the precious creatures entrusted to her by
the community," ALDF senior attorney Dana Campbell said.

Originally, back in November 2002, Ulster County sheriffs and the local
SPCA had charged Abezis, doing business as "Patty’s Angels," and two
assistants with 119 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect for 92 dogs,
24 cats and several hens and rabbits without sufficient food or
drinking water, in kennels full and contaminated with aging feces,
urine and standing water. Thirty animals were seized and taken to the
Ulster County SPCA facility in the town of Ulster, but an estimated 100
animals remained with Abezis as she and Pennington fought the charges
in Rochester Town Court.

But the proceedings were repeatedly postponed before finally being
addressed, and during that time the court imposed severe restrictions
regarding access to the property, which have hampered efforts to
monitor the condition and movement of all of the remaining animals on
the property.

About a year ago members of the local community contacted the Animal
Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for help in overcoming the continuing delays
in getting the case to court, and about ongoing concerns about Abezis’
possible violations of a court order governing the animals left behind
on the property and in the residence, which was off limits to SPCA
monitoring.

ALDF attorneys began meeting and talking with officials at the SPCA and
the district attorney’s office to provide legal research, strategy,
practical advice, and even an offer to assist with organizing shelter
and vet care should the DA win an order to remove the rest of the
animals. In January of 2005, ALDF even publicized the case’s procedural
delays in the media in an effort to pressure the court to do whatever
was necessary to get the matter finally heard.

Trial of the case was set and postponed at least four times previously,
in June and October of 2004, and January and March of 2005, before
finally proceeding to its resolution the last week of April, 2005.
Twice a trial began, only to end in mistrial due to an insufficient
number of jurors being called to serve.

"Despite the unconscionable delays and difficulties of bringing this
large-scale hoarding case to court," Campbell said, "ALDF thanks the
District Attorney’s office and the jurors for ensuring that justice was
served in Ulster County with this guilty verdict. It sends an important
message to New Yorkers that if you are going to put yourself out there
as a sanctuary or refuge for animals, you had better take seriously
that responsibility to provide proper care for them or there will be
criminal consequences."

In the original complaint filed Nov. 7, 2002, by Ulster County SPCA
Investigator Thomas LaBuda, the investigator reported that when he
visited the property at 412 Whitfield Road in Accord (N.Y.) on Nov. 6,
he found evidence of animals receiving insufficient water and food and
in some cases suffering from apparent intestinal parasites. Some of the
most vivid evidence was in the main house, which is currently off
limits to investigators.

“We observed eight mixed breed puppies in a small 2 ft. by 4 ft.
screened cage who were standing in their own feces and urine,” LaBuda
wrote. “No water or water dish was present in the cage. The puppies had
to climb over each other and I observed one puppy urinating on another
puppy while I was standing near the cage. The odor of urine and feces
in the room was overpowering. We then entered a room across from the
puppy room and observed 3 large size, loose dogs and 6 large dogs in
cages so small that they could not turn around inside of their cages.
No food or water was present for any of the animals. In two of the
cages the dogs were standing in their own feces.”

ALDF is a non-profit national network of hundreds of attorneys and more
than 100,000 members and supporters (8,900 of them in New York State)
which uses its expertise and experience in animal law to work with
local concerned citizens to ensure humane treatment and appropriate
enforcement of animal protection laws. In the spring of 2004, for
example, ALDF responded to a call for support from the Fulton County
(New York) SPCA and Spring Farm CARES animal sanctuary when an animal
neglect court case involving 230 farm animals and dogs was seriously
delayed and the threatened return of animals to their owners appeared
very possible. ALDF held heavily publicized press conferences in
Clinton, N.Y.; helped find a lawyer to represent the local animal
groups’ interests; and pressured the district attorney to obtain guilty
pleas, the surrender of all seized animals to the SPCA, and a condition
of ongoing veterinary inspections.

More recently, ALDF was awarded custody of roughly 300 dogs in a
successful animal hoarding case in Sanford, North Carolina in April
aftyer after being asked to invsetigate investigate the situation just
last November. Those dogs are now in the care of veterinarians, foster
homes and rescue workers.