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Man gets probation in horse cruelty case

August 24, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson County, W.Va., horse cruelty case that involved five dead horses found on a farm south of Charles Town came to a close Thursday when the man charged in the case pleaded no contest to one count of cruelty to animals, according to court records and attorneys in the case.

Dennis B. Danley, 54, of Charles Town, also was fined $500 and ordered to pay $160.50 in court costs during a hearing Thursday morning before Jefferson County Magistrate Bill Senseney, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

Danley was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but the sentence was suspended and Danley was given one year of probation, according to court records.

The remaining nine counts of cruelty to animals pending against Danley were dismissed under a plea deal, according to defense attorney Harley O. Wagner and Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Hassan Rasheed.

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Under the deal worked out between Danley's attorney and the prosecutor's office, Danley cannot own any horses or be a primary caretaker of any horses for five years, Wagner said.

If Danley violates any part of that requirement during the one-year probationary period, he will have to serve the 90-day jail sentence, Wagner said.

Pleading no contest to a charge means that the defendant is not admitting guilt, but will offer no defense.

Rasheed said Danley and Wagner proposed the plea agreement. Rasheed said the deal was accepted after he talked to Cpl. Vincent Tiong of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, who investigated the case.

Tiong did not have any problems with the agreement, Rasheed said.

Tiong said Thursday that the sheriff's department's main interest was making sure Danley was not a primary caretaker of any horses.

The charge of cruelty to animals carries a possible punishment or a fine of between $300 and $2,000 and/or jail up to six months.

Tiong said a person who works at Charles Town Races & Slots told him Feb. 9 about horses being kept at a farm off Huyett Road.

Tiong said the track worker said there were between 10 and 15 horses in a field along Blakeley Farm Lane that were not being properly fed and did not have water.

It also was discovered that several horses were not properly buried, and members of the sheriff's department found about five or six dead horses that had been left along a tree line, Tiong said in court papers and an interview.

Tiong said a doctor from the Valley Equine Association in Ranson, W.Va., met with him at the farm.

All of the horses had rib cages and spines showing, and a few of the horses were suffering from "rain rot," which is caused by horses being left in the rain, Tiong said.

Wagner said Danley has relinquished ownership of the horses, and they have been purchased by a private farm in Virginia.

Wagner said he believes the deal was a "just and fair resolution" for everyone involved.

The case attracted attention from dozens of people concerned about the incident.

There was a national petition containing more than 300 names that pushed for Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober to seize the horses.

Boober said state law prohibits him from seizing the horses before a trial. State law prohibits police from seizing animals without a "pre-seizure hearing," but there is nothing in state law that says how such a hearing should be held, Boober said previously.

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