Former Wheatland hog farm employees convicted of animal abuse

2013-04-11T17:42:00Z 2013-04-11T22:19:09Z Former Wheatland hog farm employees convicted of animal abuseBy JOAN BARRON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
April 11, 2013 5:42 pm  • 

Five former Wyoming Premium Farms employees were each placed on six months' probation after they were convicted on multiple counts of cruelty to animals.

The five found guilty are: Patrick Ruckavina, Richard Pritekel, Edward Pritekel, Kali Oseland and David Bienz.

In addition to probation, the five were fined $530 each for the offense, a misdemeanor, according to Platte County Circuit Court records.

The offense carries a fine of up to $750 and/or six months in jail.

A total of nine former employees at the Wheatland hog processing farm were charged in late December. All had been terminated from their jobs by the time charges were filed.

A deputy clerk with the Platte County Circuit Court said cases against Kyla Adams, Jarrod Juarez and Steve Perry were still pending. The clerk said Shawn Colson, the former assistant manager of the farm who faced seven counts of animal cruelty, is considering a plea deal.

The charges were filed as a result of an undercover investigation last spring by The Humane Society of the United States, which disclosed employee abuse of pigs and piglets. Videotapes of the abuse led Tyson Foods to sever its relationship with the operation, according to a society media release.

"All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food," said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of animal protection litigation with The Humane Society of the United States, in a release. "We are grateful to law enforcement officials for pursuing charges in this case, and we hope that these convictions will deter further abuse of animals on industrial factory farms."

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