(SALEM) - A veteran Washington County Sheriff's Deputy appeared in court and after that appearance Sheriff Claude Combs suspended Deputy Larry Motsinger, without pay.
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell of the Leader-Democrat reports that Motsinger was arrested last week on charges of two counts of failure to dispose of a dead animal, a Class D felony, and 14 counts of animal neglect, Class A misdemeanors.
Motsinger was released after posting a $10,000 full cash bond.
The charges were filed by Special Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk of Harrison County. He was appointed special prosecutor due to the conflict of interest Motsinger would have with the Washington County Prosecutor's Office.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Indiana State Police and State Veterinarian Jodi Lovejoy.
Combs said when his office received a complaint, an officer was sent to substantiate it. At that point, the matter was turned over to the Indiana State Police "because it was one of my officers," said Combs. "The bottom line is, we did it the same way we would do anyone, only we didn't work it."
According to a press release from the Harrison County Prosecutor's Office, Indiana State Trooper Kevin Bowling and Lovejoy conducted an investigation into claims of animal neglect regarding more than 30 cattle on Motsinger's property on Eastern School Road. The investigation, which began March 15, also included cattle that Motsinger cares for on his mothers' property on Farabee Road.
Investigators said there were dead cow carcasses on the property. The report says that Lovejoy and Trooper Kevin Bowling visited Motsinger's property at 4901 Eastern School Rd. and property at 5770 Farabee Rd. The latter property is owned by Motsinger's mother. However, he cares for the cattle.
Lovejoy evaluated the cattle on a scale of 1.0 (emaciated) to 9.0 (extremely fat). Cows should rank between 4 and 6 if healthy. Seven of the 20 cows on Motsinger's farm scored below 3.0 with the remaining ones appearing thin and scoring between 3.0 and 4.0. The cattle at the Farabee Road location were in similar condition. There were also two cattle carcasses which Bowling observed the previous day. Motsinger said he borrowed a backhoe and buried them that same day. He said one had died in January and the other about a week prior to the inspection.
Bowling's report says, "Veterinarian Lovejoy and myself concluded our visit with Motsinger, leaving him with strict instructions on what he needed to do to improve the conditions of the cattle. Motsinger verbally agreed and stated that he understood."
Bowling and Lovejoy returned on March 28 and examined cattle at both residences again. Minimal hay was available. Motsinger said the cattle had eaten it overnight. There was no evidence of protein tubs or grain on the property, as Lovejoy had directed. Motsinger said he hadn't had time to get the protein tubs and did not want to feed grain because he doesn't have a concrete pad or feed bunks to use.
Lovejoy concluded Motsinger had not implemented the changes as directed.
If convicted, the maximum sentence for each felony is three years. Schalk stressed that Motsinger will receive no special treatment. "Regardless of Mr. Motsinger being a sheriff's deputy, he will be treated no differently. That is what people expect and justice requires."
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