WHEATLAND — Nine people have been charged with animal cruelty after a video-taped undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States showed alleged mistreatment of pigs at a Wheatland farm in May.
A representative of the farm has said none of those implicated works there any longer. The charges were filed against two former managers and various workers at Wyoming Premium Farms after they were recorded by an undercover volunteer
for the Humane Society acting on a tip. Graphic video
obtained by the individual, who got a job at the facility to document the alleged mistreatment, showed things like workers striking the animals and flipping piglets in the air. The video has been viewed on YouTube nearly 600,000 times.
Shawn Colson, former assistant manager at the farm, faces the most counts of animal cruelty with seven alleged violations.
"He could be charged and sentenced on each count," Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty response for the Humane Society, told the Wyoming Business Report
by phone on Dec. 26.
All others implicated by the Humane Society and investigated by the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Platte County Attorney's Office
also face between two and four counts. If convicted, the former workers could face up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine per count for felony charges. Parascandola said he's unsure how many of the alleged infractions are felonies and how many are misdemeanors that carry less severe punishment, including up to six months in prison.
He also said it is most likely that if any suspect is convicted on multiple counts, the sentences are likely to be served concurrently rather than consecutively. However, that discretion is left up to the judge.
Authorities have been unable to locate some of the suspects to issue them summons to appear in court Jan. 18, Parascandola said. Because of that, arrest warrants were issued Monday for some of the suspects.
"Some of the folks have left the area," Parascandola said. He added that suspects were probably advised to remain in the area and await summons, but are unlikely to call in to check on the progress of the case.
"We are thankful that Wyoming has laws in place to address this senseless cruelty, and we hope that law enforcement's action will deter further abuse on factory farms," Parascandola said.
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