UPDATE: Arraignments Begin for 27 Individuals in New England’s Largest Animal Cruelty Case
In late March, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced indictments against 27 people facing a collective 151 counts of animal cruelty, stemming from the horrific discovery of 1,400 animals living in squalid conditions on a 70-acre tenant farm in Westport, Mass. in July 2016. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was at the forefront of this unfathomable incident. This week arraignments got underway at Fall River Superior Court.
On Wednesday, property owner Richard Medeiros, who’s facing 21 counts of animal cruelty, was arraigned, and according to published reports “absolutely denies” each and every count against him.
Medeiros’ attorney stated that her client allegedly offered to help law enforcement when the investigation began last summer, but received no reply, and added that she believes that the 83-year-old will be cleared of all charges.
Every defendant who has appeared thus far has pleaded not guilty.
The Westport incident unfolded in July 2016, when local law enforcement, aided by ARL’s Law Enforcement Services, discovered 1,400 animals living in unimaginable conditions.
“This situation is unparalleled to anything I’ve seen in my 37 years as an animal law enforcement officer,” ARL Investigator Lt. Alan Borgal said at the time. “The sheer number of animals in dire need of care, and the cruel and unsanitary conditions we found were deplorable. It took an all-out effort of state and local officials along with multiple humane organizations to get all those animals out of that horrible situation.”
ARL confiscated and cared for 124 animals from Westport, who desperately needed treatment for a variety of health and behavioral issues — nearly all of these animals have been rehabilitated and are living in new homes.