Although there has been much information circulating about the case, Steven Croley, High Caliber K-9 and others, we will only provide factual updates.
He served 4 months in jail for the 4 counts against him.
Nitro was not one of those counts.
He owes $1796 restitution and a $1000 fine.
He was also sentenced to probation for 3 years,
in that time he cannot own or harbor any animal.
Sentencing Hearing January 22, 2009
The defendant had no statement for the judge.
YOUNGSTOWN — The healthy barks of a police dog served as a backdrop for the sentencing of a kennel operator who allowed dogs to starve to death at High Caliber K-9.
Steve Croley, 38, after appearing 40 minutes late to municipal court Thursday, was sentenced to four months in jail on four counts of animal cruelty. Below Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr.’s third-floor courtroom, the barks of Detective Sgt. Frank Rutherford’s dog rose from the police parking lot as Croley and his lawyer stood in front of the judge. Rutherford was in municipal court on another matter, and the dog waited for him in their cruiser.
In addition to jail, Judge Douglas, who said he found it hard “to understand what happened, why it happened,” ordered that Croley pay restitution of $1,796 and serve three years’ probation, during which time he is not allowed to own or harbor any animal. He was also fined $1,000 and has six months to pay the fine and restitution.
Croley received credit for the 13 days he spent in jail until he posted bail. He will report to the Mahoning County jail at 6 p.m. Friday.
On Oct. 22, seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found at High Caliber K-9, 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road. Croley was arrested that day.
He reached a plea agreement in December and pleaded no contest to the animal-cruelty charges. Two housing violations related to the condition of the High Caliber K-9 property were dismissed.
Croley’s lawyer, Heidi Hanni, told the judge that her client is very sorry and remorseful, noting he lost his business. She said he made poor decisions, adding he had been in the process of a divorce.
For the “terrible atrocities with these animals” she said he is “very, very sorry.”
Croley made no statement to the judge.
In the gallery, a New York couple whose dog, Nitro, starved to death at the kennel, watched the proceeding, as did representatives of Animal Charity, a humane agency on South Avenue. Nitro’s owners left quickly after the sentencing.
Of the restitution Croley must pay, $1,646 is owed to Animal Charity, which rescued emaciated dogs from the property. The other $150 in restitution is payable to the owners of one dog who died.
When taken into custody three months ago, Croley told a representative of Animal Charity that he could not afford to feed the animals. After the arrest, dog owners came forward to say they paid him in advance.
“We feel good about the decision,” Nikole Owen, Animal Charity chief executive officer, said after court. “Initially we thought he would not receive jail time.”
She said her agency will monitor Croley, once he’s out of jail, to make sure he doesn’t own an animal.
Still pending for Croley is a rent dispute for the kennel property at 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road. Matt Akendead of Virginia, who owns the property, filed a complaint in municipal court asking for past due rent of $3,500. He said in court Tuesday that Croley and his wife failed to pay rent from May through November.
Croley contends that he and Akenhead were business partners and no rent is owed. Akenhead denied being partners with Croley.
Magistrate Tony Sertick said eviction was a moot point because Croley no longer resides at the address. The magistrate then gave Croley time to hire a lawyer and will schedule another hearing to resolve the rent dispute.
Eviction hearing reset for former kennel operator
YOUNGSTOWN — Steve Croley told a magistrate he had no rental agreement for the property once known as High Caliber K-9, and that he and the owner were business partners.
Croley, 38, of Struthers-Coitsville Road, Lowellville, appeared in municipal court Tuesday afternoon for an eviction hearing prompted by Matt Akenhead, owner of the kennel property at 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road.
Akenhead told Magistrate Tony Sertick that Croley and his wife verbally agreed to pay $500 monthly beginning in January 2007 but no rent was received from May through November 2008.
Akenhead, of Virginia, said in court that it appears Croley left sometime in November. Croley’s estranged wife was not in court; records show she moved to Alliance.
The magistrate said the matter of eviction was moot because Croley moved out. Because a dispute arose over the rent, a second hearing will be scheduled.
“He was my business partner; there was no rental agreement,” Croley said in court. “I took care of the property.”
Croley told the magistrate he needs time to find a lawyer because he didn’t find out about the eviction hearing until Monday. He said possessions he left at the kennel were thrown into the trash by Akenhead.
After court, a reporter asked Akenhead if he and Croley had been partners. “No way, shape or form,” he answered.
Akenhead said his family operated the property at 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road as a kennel until four years ago and then moved to Virginia. He said the place “has been through a rough couple of months” but had no estimate on repair costs.
Croley is due again in municipal court Thursday to be sentenced by Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. for animal cruelty. Seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found at High Caliber K-9 in October.
Croley reached a plea agreement in December and pleaded no contest to four counts of animal cruelty. Two housing violations related to the condition of the High Caliber K-9 property, which offered kenneling, obedience and guard dog training, were dismissed.
The plea agreement calls for 30 days in jail on each count. Judge Douglas could sentence Croley to more time than worked out in the plea agreement. If that happens, Croley could withdraw his plea, and the case can proceed to trial.
Top 10 Crime Stories of 2008
2 KFC manager Joe Kaluza was paralyzed after being shot in the neck during the robbery of a $300 bank deposit on March 24 in Youngstown. The two robbers are in prison.
3 On Oct. 22, seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found at High Caliber K-9, a kennel on Coitsville-Hubbard Road in Youngstown. Steve Croley, the operator, will be sentenced next month for animal cruelty.
Plea Hearing December 4, 2008
A plea agreement recommends four months in jail for the man who operated High Caliber K-9, where seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found.
Steve Croley, 38, of Struthers-Coitsville Road, Lowellville, pleaded no contest Thursday afternoon in municipal court to four counts of animal cruelty. The case had been set for a Dec. 18 trial. Two housing violations related to the condition of the High Caliber K-9 property at 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road were dismissed.
City Prosecutor Jay Macejko said the plea agreement calls for 30 days in jail on each count; restitution of $1,646 to Animal Charity, a humane agency on South Avenue that rescued dogs from the property; and a provision that Croley not own or harbor animals during whatever probation period — one to five years — that may be imposed.
Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. told Croley, who is represented by Youngstown attorney Heidi Hanni, that the potential penalty for each count is up to 90 days in jail and $750 fine. Croley said, “Yes, your honor,” to acknowledge he understood his plea meant he waived his right to a trial.
The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set sentencing for Jan. 22.
“The court recognizes there were losses in this matter,” Judge Douglas said. A restitution amount that includes estimates from the four dogs’ owners will be included, he said.
Restitution applies only to the four dead dogs for which Croley was charged, Macejko said. Letters were sent to the owners, one in California, one in Germany and two in Youngstown.
Macejko said Thursday that Judge Douglas could sentence Croley to more time than worked out in the plea agreement. If that happens, Croley could withdraw his plea and the case could proceed to trial, the prosecutor said.
Pretrial Hearing - November 13, 2008
On Thursday November 13th at Youngstown Municipal Court, there was a pretrial hearing for Steven Croley's charges of noxious orders, exterior property violations and four (4) misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty (vindy.com).
During the pretrial, there was no agreed resolution between the prosecutor and defendant. At which point, Judge Robert Douglas announced a trial date for January 9th. A few minutes later, he changed the trial date to the week before Christmas, December 18th at 1:30pm. In addition, he ordered Steven Croley to bring an affidavit of Financial Statement to the trial.
At this point, we are hoping to continue to get the support from the thousands of you who already have helped and the thousands of you who want to help.