BUXTON — The Buxton police chief said he is “outraged” that the York County District Attorney’s Office didn’t notify him about a plea agreement reached between prosecutors and two former kennel owners accused of animal cruelty.

 

Police Chief Michael Grovo held a press conference at the Buxton Police Department this morning to express his disappointment in the agreement and the lack of communication about it.

“To be resolved the way it was,” he said, “is wrong.”

John and Heidi Frasca were each charged with 25 counts of animal cruelty in 2007 following the seizure of 249 dogs from J’aime Kennel in Buxton. In York County Superior Court last week, each pleaded no contest to five counts of animal cruelty — charges that will be dismissed after 17 months, if the Frascas complete 60 hours of community service. The other 20 charges were dropped.

Steve Jacobsen, executive director of the Animal Welfare Society in Kennebunk, and two veterinarians who helped care for the seized dogs also condemned the plea deal at the press conference today.

“We all did our jobs,” Jacobsen said. “It is disappointing that the courts did not do theirs.”

Norma Worley, the former director of the state’s animal welfare program who retired in January, talked about the poor condition of the dogs, many of which were diseased, and the amount of time and money spent on treating them.

She said she had hoped to see the Frascas banned for life from keeping animals and ordered to pay restitution for the near $500,000 in costs incurred by the state for the care of the dogs.

Under the plea agreement, the Frascas can have no more than four animals until the animal cruelty charges are dropped.

“This was a travesty of justice,” Worley said. “In 17 months, it will all go away just like it never happened.”

York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery issued a statement Thursday about the terms of the plea agreement.

“The combined civil and criminal sanctions imposed on them have been substantial,” the statement said, noting that the Frascas lost their Buxton property and have not been involved in criminal activity since the seizure.

If the Frascas don’t comply with the terms of the deferral, the statement said, they would face sentencing for the charges, each of which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.