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Error lessens animal-cruelty charges



Published: Sat, October 25, 2008 @ 12:10 a.m.


Nitro Foundation

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By Patricia Meade

Only four of 19 animal cruelty charges can be prosecuted against a Youngstown kennel owner.

YOUNGSTOWN — If Animal Charity humane agents had waited for a search warrant before using bolt cutters to enter High Caliber K-9 — where seven dogs died — the city prosecutor would have filed more charges against the operator.

City Prosecutor Jay Macejko said four dogs, for which 37-year-old Steven Croley is charged with animal cruelty, are the ones the agents saw before they entered the property at 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road on Wednesday.

In all, seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found, and Croley, who lives at the business, was originally arrested on 19 counts of cruelty to a companion animal.

Macejko, however, did not file charges related to the 15 dogs found after agents entered Croley’s property with bolt cutters.

“They should have called me. I could have got a warrant in one hour,” Macejko said Friday. “Saving animals doesn’t mean you can prosecute.”

Macejko said civilians can act to save animals in distress, but the agents, Kyle Ziegler and Joe Borosky, were acting on behalf of the state and must follow the law if they expect criminal charges to be filed.

Macejko said Ziegler and Borosky first saw one dog through a fence and weren’t sure if the animal was sick or dead in the kennel area. They went next door and, from that vantage point, saw three more dogs. They then decided to enter the property by using bolt cutters, the prosecutor said.

Nikole Owen, chief executive officer at Animal Charity, wrote to Macejko on Friday, saying that her agents acted within the law and that Croley should face his original 19 counts of animal cruelty.

In a written response, Macejko said the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure, applies to humane agents.

He said: “There was absolutely no way to justify the illegal entry that your agents conducted” and “there were no exigent [pressing] circumstances” as Owen asserted in her letter.

Owen wrote that four charges instead of 19 “is an injustice to our community and our society as a whole.”

Macejko responded that the only individuals who perpetrated the injustice were her agents. He said they unlawfully intruded on a man’s property and the unlawful act has sacrificed a full-scale prosecution.

The prosecutor said reports don’t reflect the forced entry and that Croley repeatedly demanded to see a warrant.

“You and they further complicated the matter by turning the scene into a media spectacle. None of you had a right to escort the media around this man’s property,” Macejko wrote. “If you wished to hold a press conference, you would have been fully within your right to do so once the animals had been removed from the scene and secured at Animal Charity.”

He said her conduct — sending letters to the mayor and reporters before they spoke — “only serves to justify my lack of faith in your agency.”

The prosecutor said he learned Thursday, while researching the case, that Borosky has not been appointed by the mayor to act as a humane agent, but Ziegler has, so Borosky had no authority to act at all, other than as a private citizen.

Macejko warned Owen that if Borosky acts again without authority or enters a public building wearing a firearm under the auspices of being a humane agent, all necessary action will be taken. The prosecutor added that her agents are generally unprepared when they present cases to his office and severely need training.

“I, too, am mortified at the conditions of the High Caliber kennels, but our hands are tied by what your agents did,” Macejko wrote. “Please know that Mr. Croley will nevertheless be prosecuted to the extent we are able.”

He said his office will continue to make decisions absent of sympathy, emotion or bias, adding “I would strongly urge you to do the same.”

Borosky said even though there was a problem with the animal-cruelty charges, “We saved the dogs, no matter what.”

Croley was video-arraigned Friday in municipal court. He faces four counts of cruelty to companion animals and one count each of noxious odors and exterior property violation. Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. set bond at $20,000, allowing 10 percent to be paid.

Croley told the judge that he can’t afford to hire a lawyer because his business “has fallen under.” The judge appointed an attorney to represent him.

Croley said he’d use his house in Alliance as collateral to post bond. Property records show him as co-owner of a house valued at $45,199 on High Street in Alliance.

He will be back in court Nov. 13 for a pretrial hearing. As a condition of bond, he is not allowed to own or harbor any animals.

On Wednesday, Ziegler, Borosky, Patrolman Melvin Johnson and housing officer Laura Fulmer described the odor of feces and decomposing animals in the backyard as atrocious.

The agents and officers found empty, overturned food and water bowls and the animals desperate to get out of their cages, Johnson said in his report. The live dogs were covered in feces, had matted fur and open sores, and were severely malnourished with spine and ribs protruding, he said.

Croley told Borosky that he couldn’t afford to feed the dogs. He claimed ownership of 16 dogs, telling police the other three were boarded. Borosky said it’s unclear how many, if any, belonged to Croley.

Four live dogs were found in the house; seven dead and eight live dogs were in the backyard kennel area. The 12 live dogs were taken to Animal Charity on South Avenue.

“The dogs are adjusting to eating again — I know that sounds funny,” Borosky said Friday, explaining that because they went without food for so long, it may take several weeks before normal digestion returns.

“We can’t feed too much at a time; we’re doing small amounts four to five times a day. Some are having [a] hard time keeping food down.”

He said donations of food and money, for which Animal Charity is very grateful, are pouring in.

The dogs are getting individual and group attention by caretakers and being walked outside, he said. Verifying ownership, he said, is difficult because several of the dogs came from out of state to be trained at High Caliber K-9.

meade@vindy.com


Comments

1XFilesX(77 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

A travesty of justice...Everyone at work called it. This monster is going to walk with a slap on the wrist because of this judge. This is the problem with our justice system as a whole. And the idiots who "know him personally" and think he is a "great guy" will be partying like it's 1999. But it doesn't change the fact that 7 dogs are dead and 12 are suffering. Does it? No, but the judge can feel morally righteous.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man"
-- Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)

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2kicker0809(2 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

This is a great travesty. Humane agents are acting within the scope of the law when they save any animal. If Croley was there - and apparenty he was - according to your article - then he obviously did not object to the agents being on the scene. He knew he was wrong. In addition, YPD was there. If the agents were acting out of the scope of their duty - why didn't YPD point them in the right direction. Why is Mr. Majecko making the agents appear as if they are the criminals? It is Mr. Crowley that let animals STARVE TO DEATH and several others NEARLY STARVE TO DEATH. People should be thanking animal charity and punishing Majecko and the city for the way they are handling this. In addition, I know for a fact that the humane agents go to Majecko many times for help, assistance, questions with questions - and HE NEVER RETURNS THEIR CALLS. If he does, it is days later and pretty much blows off the case because after all we are only dealing with "animals." I guess Mr. Majecko doesn't care about the earth and the environment and the creatures that live here. I am glad somebody does - so thank you Animal Charity and keep up the good work. SHAME ON YOU JAY MAJECKO AND ALL OF YOU OTHER CITY EMPLOYEES THAT ARE TOO BUSY PLAYING POLITICAL GAMES THAN DOING YOUR JOB! HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? I hope the images of decaying dogs haunt you night after night. That is the least you deserve.

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3Vipers_Nest(2 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

I hope this moron [Croley] doesn't think he can just pick up where he left off and be respected in this community ever again..

If he has ONE brain cell, he'll leave this area, never to return..[preferably to Alliance and to that house mentioned in the above article..]

Unfortunately, "justice served" isn't always about a person's day in court.

This guy committed one of the two most heinous crimes out here..animal abuse..the only more serious one is abuse to children...

As I type this, the Youngstown Police are at the Kennel residence..dispatched calls haven't stopped since October 23rd..

[Think "angry mob" mentality, folks]

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4doglover17(5 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Everyone is right...we all called this one!! First of all shame on you Jay Macejko!!!You are a complete joke and a disgrace to Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley!! You said you could of had a search warrant for Animal Charities within an hour....Yeah right, who are you kidding!! Getting a search warrant takes time!! I personally think that you are friends with Steve Croley, and I am not the only one who thinks that!! You make this all look like Animal Charities was in the wrong, when all they were trying to do was save those starving dogs!! You take 19 counts of animal cruelty to just four counts of animal cruelty, all because Animal Charities didn't get a search warrant and invaded Steve Croley's home!! Like I said, shame on you Jay Macejko!! You may be the one that only gives this man a slap on the wrist, but way til these lawsuits start following in over this careless kennel operator!! Mayor Williams should have you replaced by someone who cares about animals more than you do!! To all the great people at Animal Charities good job!!

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5pompom07(1 comment)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Something needs to be done about this situation. The man 'loves his dogs and can't afford to feed them' but has 2 homes. Ya that really makes a lot of sense!!! True love towards animals is giving them a loving home with a lot of toys, exercise, food, water, and shelter. If he can live at his business and have a house in alliance, feed himself, hydrate himself he sure could take care of the dogs! If anyone knows if anyone is going to start a petition to get him fully charged for all 19 counts of animal cruelty please let me know.

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6liztom(28 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Additional contact information for Judge

Judge Robert A. Douglas, Jr.
Youngstown Municipal Court
265 Phelps Street
Youngstown, Ohio 44503
PHONE: 330.742.8857
FAX: 330.742.8725

Also please visit our website for info.
http://www.nitrofoundation.com/index....

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7liztom(28 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Petition and sample letters are up on our website.
http://www.nitrofoundation.com/index.htm...

Also petition can be found here
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/nitrofo...

Thanks for your support.

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8Scooter916(1 comment)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

I heard about this all the way in California. Quote from the article:
<In a written response, Macejko said the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure, applies to humane agents.
He said: “There was absolutely no way to justify the illegal entry that your agents conducted” and “there were no exigent [pressing] circumstances” as Owen asserted in her letter.>

Aren’t rotting corpses a health threat that could warrant a reasonable search and seizure?

Quote from the article:
<Macejko said civilians can act to save animals in distress, but the agents, Kyle Ziegler and Joe Borosky, were acting on behalf of the state and must follow the law if they expect criminal charges to be filed.>

Quote from the article:
<The prosecutor said he learned Thursday, while researching the case, that Borosky has not been appointed by the mayor to act as a humane agent, but Ziegler has, so Borosky had no authority to act at all, other than as a private citizen.>

Isn’t a civilian the same as a private citizen?

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9grkfire(52 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Why dont you people get a clue? Macejko is a great prosecutor and if any of you had a clue you would know that he is the most strict prosecutor in the area. Just check the stats if you think I am wrong. Yes it is unfortunate what happened, and the animals are very important. However, people's rights cannot be violated.
You people need to get the facts right. The agents did not have probable cause to enter. They did not see dead animals as many of you believe. And yes, Macejko can get a warrant in an hour. I have witnessed it before. Ive seen officers wake him in the middle of the night to write one, then go to a judge to have it signed. Thats how dedicated he is.
The only ones to blame are the humane agents. I have worked with them personally and I know they are poorly trained. And I have witnessed many wrongdoings on their behalf. Macejko does not ignore their calls, he sits with them for hours on end explaining how to do things properly, without violating people's rights. so your "facts" are wrong. Ive seen it with my own two eyes. So get a clue. The only ones to blame are the agents. Ive seen former agents follow people into PA! An Ohio agent spying on people in PA! wow.
It is very sad what happened. However, the rights of animals are not above the rights of a human, no matter how low that human is.

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10animallover(86 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

I am so sick of people defending Steve Croley. This man is a poor excuse for life.

Water is free and the food - he had the food. Oh and he ate isnt that correct? He drank correct? HIS dogs were fed!

Humane agents being trained poorly is the states or counties fault, and they should not be punished. They need to punish this sadist croley.

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11Maite(47 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

This has NOTHING to do with poor training!!
How much training does it need for two human beings to recognise when an animal is dead or dying??!!
The Law SUCKS if it can acknowledge that a low-life such as this monster, has more "rights" than an innocent animal!!!

Steve Croly forfeited his RIGHTS as a human being when he acted in a manner that belies the very essence of humanity.
This was not an accidental oversight. This was wanton and deliberate murder of those who could not defend themselves.

The closest I have ever heard of to this, is indeed in the Holocaust itself. In the concentration camps of war-torn Europe. In Belsen and its like.

And who dares comment on FACTS being wrong???

What about the "fact" that Croly protested ownership of 16 dogs? when most of those 16 were blatantly NOT his own.
May THEFT therefore also be added to his list of charges???
Oh, and falsehood with intent to deceive.(In other words, he is a liar and a thief as well!)

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12animallover(86 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

What about FRAUD - take people's money and don't provide the services you are supposed to be providing?

If you have no money, then ask - beg for help.

Pick garbage, give them bread, beans, ANYTHING. HE ATE!!!! HIS DOGS ATE!!!! AND WATER IS FREE!!!!!

I have been reading about he is on DRUGS. Did they ever test him for drugs? Did they ever search his house with a warrant? There could have been more dogs or drugs in his house.

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13Maite(47 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Yes - Fraud - theft - it is the same basic thing.
He stole money, deliberately, misrepresenting what this money was to be used for.

And this was not a brief error of judgement. This went on for WEEKS!!!
Dogs don't get in the state that we saw these, in just a few days!!

And what hell the poor souls must have suffered whilst their flesh was falling from their bones!

Water is free!
Stale bread is cheap. Scraps of vegetable are cheap enough. Geez, these poor dogs would have eaten ANYthing!!

The water bowls were full of faeces!!!!!!!
I figure they ate their own faeces at first, until they were too week to even poop.

I am not surprised that after a certain stage in this, nobody went near their pens.
If any human had gone in to refill those bowls, they would have been ripped apart by the starving animals.
And who could blame the poor dogs then!

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14animallover(86 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

So today I read that the court date is this Thursday Nov 13 at 11:15am. I know that I will be there - everyone should be there for these animals.

Youngstown Municipal Court
26 South Phelps Street
Youngstown, Ohio 44503

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15puppyowner(1 comment)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

This is a shame ...I brought my female shepherd to breed with one of his male shepherds which is the father of my male. The guy is on drugs seriously when my husband and I went there for the breeding, the guy was a jerk. Sweating profussley mistreating his dog by punching him in the head. My female wasn't ready but he tried to force it ....my husband wanted to punch him in the head. So he wanted us to leave our female there.....yeah right! We left never to return to that beast again. very sick individual!!!!!!!!!!!

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