BUXTON – Police Chief Michael Grovo will hold a news conference this morning to address reaction to the outcome of a case against two kennel owners accused of animal cruelty.

J’aime Kennel was raided in August 2007, and 249 dogs were seized. The owners, John and Heidi Frasca, were charged with 25 counts each of animal cruelty.

Last week, each pleaded no contest to five counts of animal cruelty in York County Superior Court. Under the agreement, 20 charges were dropped, and the other five charges will be dismissed after 17 months if the Frascas adhere to certain conditions. Those include performing 60 hours of community service between them, not keeping more than four animals at a time and refraining from any criminal activity.

The outcome has left some people involved with the case confused and upset, in part because they were not notified in advance about where the case was heading.

Christine Fraser, state veterinarian for the Maine Animal Welfare Program, said the dogs suffered from a range of medical problems, including conditions contagious to humans, dental disease, untreated injuries and behavioral problems.

The Frascas’ defense lawyers said that the couple had already suffered and noted that their home had been foreclosed upon.

“They basically lost everything, and I think that’s also something the court can rightly consider and the prosecutor can consider,” said J.P. DeGrinney, who represented Heidi Frasca. “I think there’s a pretty good argument that if you completely destroy someone, you don’t have to send them to jail.”

DeGrinney said it was clear that his client had no intention of mistreating the animals and that the dispute was over how badly the animals were neglected, if at all.

The penalty for a count of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, is up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery released a statement saying the charges against the couple had been pending since November 2007 and that neither had been involved in any criminal activity since. She said the combined criminal and civil sanctions imposed on them have been substantial, including the loss of property.

“The deferral allows continuing monitoring to ensure the defendants’ compliance,” she said.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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