It will be interesting to see if she accepts the plea or if the case will go to trial.
Wildlife rehabilitator offered settlement in case
By OMAR AQUIJE, The Leader-Herald
BLEECKER - A wildlife rehabilitator who faces more than 100 counts of cruelty to animals has been offered a plea deal by the Fulton County district attorney that excludes jail time, but requires she be placed on probation and that she lose her license to care for wild animals.
Sheila Penney, of 556 County Highway 125, is being asked to plead guilty to one count of failure to provide proper sustenance, one count of possessing a raptor without a permit and one count of violating the conditions of a wildlife rehabilitator. The plea offer includes three years of probation, permanently losing her license as a wildlife rehabilitator and prohibiting Penney from seeking an appeal. She also could not own animals while on probation.
Penney was charged after officers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation seized more than 100 animals from her home. The DEC said she possessed illegal wildlife and kept animals in "deplorable" conditions.
Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said she met with members from DEC and the Fulton County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to prepare the plea offer. She said jail time was not considered, but DEC officials felt a critical part of the offer was for Penney to be prohibited from being given a license again.
Sira said it was important to follow the recommendations of the DEC because it was more familiar with the case.
"We have to rely on their expertise," Sira said.
Sira said the case will likely go to trial if Penney does not accept the offer.
Penney is scheduled to appear in Town Court Aug. 10.
Her attorney, Norbert J. Sherbunt, could not be reached today to comment on the plea offer.
On Tuesday, Sherbunt said Penney did not harm the animals. Sherbunt was unclear how many or if any animals were mistreated under her care.
He said many of the animals were wounded or in poor enough condition that death could not have been prevented.
Some dead animals were found at her home.
"We are hopeful that justice will be served," Sherbunt said. "Ms. Penney would like to continue being a wildlife rehabilitator."
Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed by the DEC to legally care for injured wildlife. These animals would receive medical care until capable of returning to the wild.
DEC officials found about 85 wild birds and mammals of 20 different species at Penney's home. Among the animals were squirrels, woodchucks, pigeons, songbirds and a hawk.
Domestic animals such as dogs and rabbits were found and taken to the SPCA. Some wildlife were taken to a rehabilitation center in Lake George.
Those that were healthy were returned to the wild.
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