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Animal cruelty case sent to Carbon Court

Published November 19. 2009 05:00PM

A Towamensing Township couple accused of charges of cruelty to animals by neglect will have their case sent to Carbon County Court.

Gus Cerino and Shauna Andrews, of 1580 Strohl's Valley Road, Lehighton, faced a total of 28 animal cruelty charges when they went before District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton on Tuesday.

But, defense attorneys claimed June Parker, a Humane Society Police Officer, wasn't officially sworn in when a search warrant was issued at the couple's property back in July when humane officers removed several horses and a pony from Cerino's property.

As a result, Appleton ruled for an open continuance so that the case could be sent to the county Court of Common Pleas.

This isn't the first controversy Cerino has found himself embroiled in.

In July, he was ordered by Appleton to pay the township $30,192 for illegally running a puppy mill at his property.

A civil judgment was entered, and a civil hearing held, before Appleton on July 15. On July 17, Appleton entered a judgment for the township against Cerino.

Cerino, according to court documents, was in violation of a township zoning ordinance because dogs were still being kept within 150 feet of a lot line.

In addition, Cerino was found to be in violation of another township zoning ordinance because he was using a building located to the east of his home to keep dogs in without having first applied for and obtained a zoning and building permit.

He also hadn't removed all but 29 of the dog runs, and had continued to erect dog runs without having first applied for and obtained a zoning and building permit, according to court documents.

Also at that time, Cerino was found to be in violation of the second enforcement notice because he hadn't applied for and obtained conditional approval as required by a section of the township zoning ordinance; hadn't applied for and obtained a zoning permit; hadn't landscaped all setbacks adjacent to the additional dog runs with visual screening and/or buffering; hadn't erected a solid barrier around the perimeter of the additional dog runs; hadn't erected a building to bring additional dogs into and keep them from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; hadn't submitted a land development plan for the additional dog runs; and had kept a dumpster for the disposal of animal waste approximately 80 feet away from an adjoining property line.

In Jan. of 2004, the township zoning officer sent Cerino an enforcement notice notifying him that he was in violation of several sections of the township zoning ordinance.

Then, in June of 2005, the zoning officer sent Cerino a second enforcement notice notifying him that he was in violation of several other sections of the zoning ordinance.

Cerino appealed both enforcement notices, with the exception that it permitted 29 dog runs or kennels to remain.

Cerino appealed that decision to the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, but the Honorable Judge David W. Addy affirmed the decision of the township's zoning hearing board.

As a result, Cerino then appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which in Oct. of 2007, affirmed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas.

Cerino then filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which was denied. No further appeals were taken or attempted by Cerino.

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