COURT CALENDAR

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:

Crimes against wildlife
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on
September 5 for the second time denied Miami
monkey dealer Matthew Block’s attempt to overturn
a 13-month jail sentence he received in April
1993 after pleading guilty to felony conspiracy in
the “Bangkok Six” smuggling case. The “Six”
were baby orangutans whom Block attempted to
have shipped from Singapore to Belgrade in
February 1990, along with two siamang gibbons.
Tightly packed into a crate marked “Birds,” they
were intercepted at the Bangkok airport. Four of
the six orangs died from complications of the conditions
of their transport.


A federal jury in Los Angeles on
August 29 convicted Theodora Elizabeth
Swanson, 35, of Memphis, on felony smuggling
charges for her part in importing an estimated 400
wild cockatoo eggs from Australia to the U.S.
between 1986 and 1991. Cockatoos hatched from
the eggs were sold for $1,000-$13,000 apiece,
depending on the subspecies. Fifteen participants
in the scheme have now been convicted.
Taxidermist Nicholas Peters, 40, of
Newtown, Powys, Wales, was on August 15
arrested in possession of body parts from an estimated
500 endangered animals, including a chimpanzee,
a gorilla, a tiger, a cheetah, a baby elephant,
a red panda, a golden lion tamarin, baby
black jaguars, and several tigers, as well as a
Philippine eagle, of which an estimated 50 remain
in the wild. It was the largest such haul ever from
a private collector, until Belgian police raided
Peters’ second home in Dessel and found 500
hides, 700 skulls, 40 frozen skeletons, and about
200 frozen birds. Peters’ traffic took place virtually
in the open, due to loose European Union animal-related
commerce regulations.
Steven Eyler, 19, of Oakland,
M a r y l a n d , on August 31 drew two days in jail
and a fine of $842 for poaching an albino doe near
Cranesville, West Viginia. Richard Warnick Jr.,
19, and Jacob Scott Livengood, 20, of Oakland
and Swanton, Maryland, were each fined $162 as
accessories. Both Celtic and Native American traditions
hold killing a white deer to be a direct
offense against the Almighty.
Mark White, 34, of Elverson,
Pennsylvania, was fined $1,700 on August 10 for
illegally capturing fox kittens for sale to fox
hunters at about $100 apiece. Still facing charges
are White’s father James White, 56, and alleged
accomplices Thomas Harper, 28, and Kelly
Browell, 28. James White faces further charges
for allegedly pulling a gun on police.

Crimes against humans
Chicago-area stable owner Kenneth
Hansen, 62, was convicted on September 13 of
the 1955 sex-related murders of Robert
Peterson, 14, John Schussler, 13, and his
brother Anton, 11––the most sensational of 12
murders believed to have been committed by
members and associates of a ring that killed
horses to collect insurance money. The horses
haven’t been forgotten; at deadline, world class
equestrian George Lindemann, 31, and his
trainer, Marion Hulick, both of Greenwich,
Connecticut, were on trial for allegedly commissioning
the electrocution of a horse who was
insured for $250,000. Twenty-nine people have
been indicted for fraud as result of the probe;
20 are already convicted. Most recently charged
were Daniel Jayne, 33, of Morton Grove,
Illinois, and John Garvey, 54, of Palos Verdes,
California, for allegedly burning 26 horses alive
in a 1987 stable fire. Jayne’s great uncle Silas,
who died in 1988 after serving seven years for
ordering the 1970 murder of his brother, was
reputed head of the horse-killing syndicate.
Steven Pfiel, 19, the son of a prominent
meatpacking executive, on August 18
drew a 100-year sentence after pleading guilty to
the 1993 hunting knife thrill-killing of Hillary
Norskog, 13, in Palos Township, Illinois, and
subsequent murder of his older brother Roger,
whom he confessed to bludgeoning with a baseball
bat and hacking with a meat cleaver on
March 18, while free on bail. Roger Pfiel was
asleep in bed at the time. After that killing,
Pfiel allegedly raped a close family member,
then fled with the family hunting arsenal, but
surrendered to police the next morning.
Toronto accountant Paul Bernardo,
3 1, was convicted on September 1 of kidnapping,
raping, and killing Leslie Mahaffy, 14,
in June 1991, and Kristen French, 15, in April
1992. His wife, veterinary assistant Karla
Homolka, provided drugs and surgical instruments
used to hobble the victims, but drew only
a 12-year prison term as part of a plea bargain in
exchange for her testimony. After she was sentenced,
police found videotape depicting her as
an active and apparently enthusiastic participant
in those crimes and the sex-related overdose
murder of her 15-year-old sister, Tammy, on
Christmas Eve, 1990. Keeping a tight lid on
details about the case, police have never confirmed
rumors that between human victims
Bernardo and Homolka tortured animals.

Wins $95,000
Safia Rubai, a Muslim who argued as a University of Colorado medical
school freshman in 1992 that her religion forbade her participation in mandatory dog dissection,
was in August awarded $95,000 in settlement of a lawsuit initially dismissed by
Denver District Court but reinstated on appeal after the passage of the 1993 Religious
Freedom Restoration Act clarified her rights. Under the settlement, CU is also to establish
a review process to find ways of accommodating the claims of other conscientious objectors
to participation in dissection, who must establish that their position is grounded in sincere
religious faith. Rubai left CU after flunking physiology because she would not dissect,
but later in 1992 passed an equivalent course at Creighton University in Omaha,
Nebraska, that didn’t use animals. She then returned to CU, graduated this spring, and is
now a first-year medical resident.

Another round in O’Barry vs. Roberts
Feuding former partners Joe Roberts of the Dolphin Alliance and Ric
O’Barry of The Dolphin Project on August 29 signed an out-of-court settlement of crossfiled
lawsuits whereby O’Barry and Lloyd Good III retained control of the Sugarloaf
Dolphin Sanctuary while agreeing to turn over the former Ocean Reef Club dolphins Bogie
and Bacall to Roberts. But the deal wasn’t even 48 hours old before they were embroiled
in dispute over who would catch and transport the dolphins, and who would have what
role after the dolphins reached their new holding pen on the Indian River. When O’Barry
hitched a ride to the Indian River on the truck hauling Bogie, Roberts had him arested for
disturbing the peace. Roberts gave ANIMAL PEOPLE a list of witnesses to the incident
whom he said would support his version of what happened, but those we reached by telephone
were sympathetic toward O’Barry and one of them even posted O’Barry’s $500 bail.
O’Barry still has custody of three former U.S. Navy dolphins (see page 13), plus a third
Ocean Reef dolphin, Molly, who is not considered a good candidate for outright release
because of her relatively advanced age, but may be able to come and go on “day release”
in O’Barry’s opinion.

Humane enforcement
A shocked real estate appraiser in late August discovered more than 100
cocker spaniels and Irish setters in filthy cages at the Cornish, New Hampshire home of
dog breeders Eugene and Judy Hopper. He photographed the situation and forwarded
the photos to Sue Skaskiw of Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals, who had just
drawn media attention for removing 92 animals from the home of an animal collector in
nearby Springfield, Vermont. Having no jurisdiction in New Hampshire, Skaskiw contacted
New Hampshire counterparts. But in the course of planning a raid, trying to find
out in advance how many dogs might need sheltering, Skaskiw said, information was
leaked to dog behaviorist April Frost, who apparently warned the Hoppers. Before the
raid could occur, the Hoppers and friends claimed on TV and the Internet that they were
having to place large numbers of puppies to keep the humane societies from killing
them––and thereby got rid of much of the evidence while the humane organizations
were put on the defensive. The media reports took a different tone after reporters
learned the New Hampshire Division of Youth Services was also part of the raid planning,
and that social workers would remain involved with the family.
Judge William Patrick on August 22 sentenced convicted northern
California puppy miller Charlotte Speegle to serve two years in state prison on eight
felony counts of animal abuse involving 329 poodles who were seized from her property
in July 1993, along with four cats and three horses. “This sets a new standard for
sentences in animal cruelty cases,” said Santa Rosa animal-related law specialist Larry
Weis, pointing out that none of the time was suspended. But the case nearly broke the
Northwest SPCA, of Oroville, which was obliged to house the poodles as evidence for
17 months while defending itself against 16 retaliatory lawsuits filed by Speegle. At
deadline the Northwest SPCA was operating on a day-to-day basis. Patrick ruled that
Speegle is liable for up to $260,000 in civil restitution, but she claims to be indigent.
Los Angeles authorities on September 14 seized 38 potbellied pigs f r o m
the home of an apparent collector, believed to be the biggest pet pig seizure to date, but
declined to name her or file charges.
Herman Schwegler, 53, of Port Washington, Wisconsin, was charged on
August 11 with 26 counts of failing to properly shelter 62 sheep, 22 goats, and 43
equines, who were found mired in manure heaped three to four feet deep; 67 counts of
mistreating the animals; and 25 counts of not properly feeding them. Hit with 36 similar
charges in 1991, when he lived in Richfield, Wisconsin, Schwegler and Debra
Schier-Schwegler escaped prosecution in that case when a judge ruled the animals were
improperly seized––after Waukesha County spent more than $100,000 on their care.

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