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Thugs who beat cows get a slap on the wrist



Published: Thu, January 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



When Judge Scott D. Hunter of the Mahoning County Court in Canfield sentenced three men for hitting cows last June while they slept in a pasture in North Lima, he should have offered this observation: "You're lucky you aren't living in Singapore."

Of course, it's quite possible the three mental midgets would have guffawed at the reference to "Singapore," thinking the judge was cracking a joke of some kind. Therefore, it would have been necessary for Hunter to expound on his comment. This is what Ryan C. Russo, Ryan A. Stevens and Patrick J. Lane, all of Canfield, would have learned:

Singapore is an island nation located in southeastern Asia that grabbed the attention of Americans in 1994 when Kettering, Ohio, native Michael Peter Fay, who was living on the island, pleaded guilty to vandalism, mischief and possession of stolen property.

Fay, who went to Singapore in 1992, received the following sentence: four months in prison; $2,230 in fines; and, six lashes with a water-soaked rattan rod. That's right, Fay, who is back in the United States, will always have the scars on his buttocks from the flogging he received for the vandalism. Singapore officials did show some mercy: they reduced the number of lashes to four.

Fay's crime? He sprayed graffiti on cars.

Baseball bat: Now compare that to what the Canfield trio, Russo, Stevens and Lane, did. In a premeditated act, they hit the dairy cows with a baseball bat and fluorescent light tubes, breaking the ribs of at least three animals and causing numerous bruises and lacerations.

Then, they painted an obscene message referring to the attack on the street in front of the pasture.

And why did they indulge in such despicable behavior? According to police, the thugs went out to the Detwiler Road farm with the intention of knocking the sleeping cows on their sides -- as they had seen done in a movie.

In an agreement worked out with the farm's owners, David and Kathy Moff, the accused pleaded no contest to a charge of animal cruelty. They had originally been charged with felony vandalism and criminal trespassing.

As a result of the plea, they were sentenced to 90 days in jail, 24 months' probation, 120 hours community service and a $250 fine plus court costs. All time behind bars was suspended.

In other words, Russo, Stevens and Lane got off with a slap on the wrist -- compared to the beatings they gave the defenseless dairy cows.

Michael Peter Fay certainly won't forget the price he had to pay for his criminality in Singapore. Even the cows haven't fully recovered from the attack. Kathy Moff has said that stress from the attack has had a negative impact on milk production. But the Canfield cowboys won't have any physical or psychological scars to remind them of what they did.

In sentencing Russo, Stevens and Lane, Judge Hunter said that Angels for Animals or other such organizations would have the first opportunity to benefit from their community service.

They should be assigned to take care of the most vicious dogs in captivity.




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