Barbara Reinken, the Sharpsburg woman whose 75 horses were seized in December 2006, appeared in Washington County Circuit Court on Tuesday April 3, 2007. Ms. Reinken by and through her counsel Edward Button of Washington County and Charles Iannuzzi of Woodbury, NJ, entered a Plea and Sentencing Agreement pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-243.
Ms. Reinken was charged with 72 misdemeanor counts of abuse or neglect of animal and 4 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals on December 22, 2006. If convicted on the misdemeanor charges, she faces imprisonment not to exceed 90 days or a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both, for each misdemeanor offense. If convicted of the felony charges she faces imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.
The Defendant will knowingly, voluntarily, and with the benefit of the advice of counsel enter a plea pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970) (Alford Plea) to count 77 of the Charging Document, to wit: A violation of Maryland Ann. Crim. Code 10- 606 (aggravated animal cruelty, including omission or neglect, resulting in the cruel death of an animal). Defendant acknowledges that under an Alford Plea she maintains that she did not commit the alleged crime, but admits that the State possesses evidence sufficient to convict her, and knowingly and voluntarily accepts a guilty judgment to the crime. Defendant acknowledges that the maximum penalty for this crime is three (3) years incarceration in the Maryland Division of Corrections, and a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
• The Defendant will knowingly, voluntarily, and with the benefit of the advice of counsel enter guilty pleas to counts 11, 19, 22, 24, 39, 46, 48, 56, 60 and 64 of the Charging Document, to wit: ten counts of violation of Maryland Ann. Crim. Code 10-604 (negligent of animals). Defendant acknowledges that the maximum penalty for each count of this crime is 90 days incarceration, and a fine not exceeding $1,000/00 or both.
The State and Defendant agree that Defendant will receive a sentence of three years incarceration in the Maryland Division of Correction for Count 77, and 90 days consecutive incarceration for each of Counts 11, 19, 22, 24, 39, 46, 48, 56, 60 and 64, and that the State and Defense agree that, upon acceptance of this plea agreement by this Honorable Court, that this sentence will be suspended in its entirety.
• The State will defer to the Court, after presenting the facts of the case, on the amount of fine, if any to be imposed upon the Defendant. The Defense is free to argue for leniency in the imposition of any fine.
• The Defendant reserves the right under Md. Rule 4-345 (e) to timely file a Motion for Modification of sentence. The State opposes modification of this sentence, but the Defendant and State agree that the Defendant's Motion for Modification may be held sub curia for such a period as the Court sees fit. The State specifically requests and reserves the right to be present and oppose the motion to modify if and when the Court elects to hold a hearing to modify the sentence.
Terms of Probation
The terms of this plea agreement and this document are to be incorporated into the probation order upon the approval of the Court and acceptance of the Defendant's Alford plea and guilty pleas in open court.
The State and Defense agree that the Defendant will be subject to the probation of this Honorable Court for a period of five years. This probation will be supervised by the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation, subject to transfer to another state, until such time that the State, the Defendant, or a Probation Agent petitions this Court for a termination of supervision, and the Court approves termination of supervision. Termination of supervision will not end the period of probation.
As a condition of probation Defendant will undergo a mental health evaluation within 30 days with a mental health provider approved by the Court, said evaluation to include a treatment plan for the Defendant. As a condition of probation the Defendant will engage in and successfully complete or maintain the treatment described by the mental health evaluation, and report the progress of this treatment to the Defendant's supervising probation agent.
During the five year period of probation, the Defendant will possess no animals other than the dogs and cats, and the number of dogs and cats in her possession or present in any home or property in which she resides will not exceed 5 dogs, and 6 cats. In addition she will not engage in the training, ownership, care, showing, buying, selling, of any animals other than 5 dogs and 6 cats allowed under her sentence. All dogs and cats in her possession must be either spayed or neutered within 30 days of sentencing in this matter, or 30 days of any later acquisition.
During the five year period of probation, the Defendant shall be subject to periodic (not to exceed monthly) inspection of her home and any real properties owned, used, or occupied by the Defendant by the Humane Society of Washington County (if Defendant resides within Washington County), or by the animal control authority within any jurisdiction in which the Defendant resides, or uses or occupies real property.
The State and Defendant agree that the Court may impose such other reasonable terms of probation that it sees fit, including, but not limited to standard terms of probation.
Surrender of Horses:
Upon the approval of this plea agreement by this Honorable Court, the Defendant agrees to immediately surrender ownership and possession to the Humane Society of Washington County of all horses previously impounded from her possession. For purposes of this plea agreement the term "horses" includes all equines, and any offspring born or unborn. The Parties acknowledge that this condition of the plea agreement is effective upon the acceptance of the terms of the agreement by the Honorable Circuit Court of Washington County, and that the surrender will be effective and irrevocable immediately upon the court's approval of this agreement. The Defendant agrees to execute such further assurances, release documents, registration documents, or other documents necessary to effectuate this surrender.
Neither the State, nor the Humane Society of Washington County will seek financial recourse against Defendant for the costs of the care of the animals accrued to date, or thereafter.
The Humane Society of Washington County, upon surrender of the horses will make all reasonable efforts to adopt out the animals according to its protocol, as expressed in documents previously shared with the Defendant, receipt of which the Defendant acknowledges. If reasonable adoption efforts fail for any animal, the Humane Society of Washington County will dispose of any un-adopted animal in a humane fashion.
The Defendant will not attempt to contact or interfere with any person or entity having possession of any animal surrendered by this plea agreement in the future. To understand more about legal minimum standards of care for horses in Maryland, please visit equiery.com, select "Horsin' Around Maryland" and click on Maryland's Minimum Standards of Care. To find out how you can adopt or help the Sharpsburg horses, please visit equiery.com and click on "News & Resources."