Mar 1, 2010: Animal Hoarder Cynthia Gudger Sentenced To Probation
By: Christine Dinh
Animal hoarder Cynthia Gudger was officially sentenced Monday morning after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.
Gudger pleaded guilty to five counts of felony animal cruelty and will receive five years of probation.
In return for the plea, the district attorney's office agreed to drop another five counts of animal cruelty.
Gudger will also receive credit for 822 days served in custody. She must also receive psychiatric treatment and can not keep or care for any animals for five years.
Prosecutor Michael Yraceburn says he thinks it's a fair outcome for all parties."Even if we successfully went to trial, she would probably not get more time than she's already spent in jail," said Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn.However she's not off the hook just yet.
Immediately after Monday's court session ended, Gudger was taken into custody again; this time by U.S marshals.
She faces federal charges from an indictment back in 2004 that alleged she committed Social Security fraud.Gudger also faces charges in Riverside County.At least two other people who have appeared before a judge on charges of hoarding.
Kimi Peck is still fighting the county to keep her dogs. Peck was accused of hoarding more than a 100 dogs in her Tehachapi home.
More recently, Kim Maggio was arrested on suspicion of keeping nearly 20 cats and dogs in feces-filled conditions that burned the eyes and throats of authorities. One dog was also found in a freezer, police said..." More
Mar 1, 2010: Dog hoarder faces new charges (includes .pdf of indictment)
Mar 1, 2010: Animal hoarder now faces federal ID theft charges & video
Jan 28, 2010: Tearful convict: "I didn't abuse any animals"
Gudger also complained the county destroyed some of the animals seized from her Tehachapi-area home.
Gudger was arrested under the name Anita Gilbert in 2008, and the case finally resulted in the plea bargain on Wednesday. Under its terms, Gudger entered pleas of no contest to five charges of felony animal cruelty and would then get probation for five years. During that time, she must get mental health care and have no animals.
"I didn't abuse any animals," Gudger said tearfully Friday in jail. "That's not fair, I didn't abuse any animals."
Asked why she took the plea bargain, Gudger said she couldn't raise the bail for other charges against her of failing to appear on the case and allegedly threatening her public defender.
"If they had kept these charges away," she said, "I would fight to go to trial on the animal control charge."
Gudger was first arrested in July 2008, when officers found 50 animals in filthy conditions in a warehouse near Tehachapi. There were also 14 dead animals in a freezer. Gudger maintains there was no abuse of the animals there.
"The day of the raid the cat room was dirty, but the dog run was clean," Gudger said.
She faced animal the abuse charges then, and a charge of threatening her public defender. But, Gudger skipped bail, and was finally tracked down by a bail bondsman.
At that point, Gudger was ruled not mentally competent to stand trial, and was getting mental evaluation since then. Gudger told Eyewitness News she is now taking pills for her mental condition.
"The medication I'm on is for severe depression, it's not for animal hoarding," she said. "I'm not an animal hoarder."
Gudger said she got her first cat about 20 years ago. In the early 80's she was living in Irvine, and two cats died in fire. Gudger said a neighbor's toaster had started that blaze.
Gudger said in 1989, she picked up seven cats from a pound in the Los Angeles area because they were going to be put down. Then, Gudger said she started getting animals, and finding homes to adopt them. But, she said one adoptive family didn't work out -- and after that she stopped looking for adoptive homes, and started "collecting" animals.
When Gudger took off from the Kern County charges in 2008, she was tracked down to an apartment in Fillmore, and later a motel in Oxnard. Gudger said she had 14 cats with her then, and says those were animals that got away from animal control officers who raided the warehouse near Tehachapi.
Back in 2006, Gudger had been charged with five counts of animal cruelty when she was found with some 40 animals in a rented house in Riverside County. Animal control officers in that area say she was using the name "Barbara Ryan."
Gudger said she is now only taking medication for her mental condition, but got counseling during her evaluation and treatment.
"They told me at Patton, because I was abused as a child, I made no human connection with my mother. And my first human connection was with my animals, and when they were killed -- that's why I'm so suicidal."
Gudger believes 28 cats and 19 dogs were destroyed by the county.
Kern County Animal Control director Guy Shaw told Eyewitness News some of the animals seized from Gudger in Tehachapi were given to rescuers, and some had to be put down because they were too sick.
Faced with having no animals for five years under the conditions of parole, Gudger said she is not going to get "any new animals."
Asked what's next, Gudger said she she doesn't know.
"I don't know what to do, because I can't live without my animals," she sobbed. Gudger said at this point she's homeless and penniless.
"I just lost everything."
The Riverside County case is still pending against Gudger, it'll be up to that district attorney to decide whether to pursue the charges. Gudger will be sentenced on the Kern County case on March 1..." Link & video
Jan 27, 2010: Tehachapi woman pleads no contest to animal cruelty
Cynthia Gudger, who has been taking medication for mental issues relating to hoarding dogs and cats, pleaded no contest Wednesday to five counts of felony animal cruelty on the conditions she will be released from custody March 1, cooperate with mental health treatment and not possess animals for five years.
Gudger, 61, calmly entered pleas in the nearly two-year-old criminal case marked by loud outbursts from her in court alleging unfair treatment.
Kern County Animal Control officers found Gudger living with 18 dogs and 34 cats under the name of Anita Gilbert in a Tehachapi warehouse in July 2008. Officers described the condition of the warehouse as "deplorable."
She was also keeping 12 animal carcasses in freezers on the property, which was heavily littered with feces and open cans of cat food, animal control officers reported.
Before coming to Kern County, Gudger faced animal abuse allegations under the name of Barbara Ryan in Hemet, but she skipped out on bail in that case.
Defense attorney Michael C. Lukehart said Gudger faced up to 13 years in prison for all the crimes she had been accused of, but she has credits for two years in custody in both the Kern County jail and Patton State Hospital where she was recently treated for a mental condition.
Her sentencing will be March 1 before Judge Collette Humphrey. Gudger will likely be transferred to Riverside County for the Hemet case, but Lukehart said he did not expect her to get any more time in custody.
In the Kern County case, she faced 10 counts of animal cruelty and a felony count of making threats against a previous defense attorney. Those charges were suspended in March when a judge ruled Gudger was not mentally competent to stand trial.
She accepted a plea deal on Wednesday calling for her to be placed on five years probation, continue with mental health treatment and be banned from possessing any animals for five years, Lukehart said...." Link
Jan 27, 2009: Tehachapi Hoarder Accepts Plea Deal
"...She faces an additional three years of potential prison time as part of the plea deal reached with prosecutors during a pre-preliminary hearing Wednesday..." More
Jan 27, 2009: Tehachapi animal-hoarder pleads no contest
Jan 20, 2010: Doctors declare accused animal abuser competent
Accused animal abuser Cynthia Gudger has been ruled competent to stand trial by doctors from Patton State Hospital near San Bernardino.
A trial for Gudger, on charges of animal abuse and threatening a public official, has tentatively been scheduled for March.
Those charges were suspended in March 2009 after two doctors said Gudger was not mentally fit to go to trial.
Gudger was committed to Patton State Hospital in April.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn said Gudger agreed last week to take medication for her condition and was cleared for trial.
Yraceburn said he will prosecute the felony case against Gudger.
Kern County Animal Control officers found Gudger living with 18 dogs and 34 cats under the name Anita Gilbert in a Tehachapi warehouse in July 2008.
The warehouse was in "deplorable" condition, officers said. According to reports animals were kept in carriers so full of feces the pets were trapped against the top of the enclosure.
Photos showed hundreds of open cans of cat food strewn across the office area of the warehouse and pet carriers caked in filth. Feces covered large areas of the floor and overflowed from plastic containers.
Gudger was keeping 12 animal carcasses in freezers on the property, animal control officers reported.
The charges of threatening a public official stem from statements Gudger allegedly made against Deputy Public Defender Craig Elkin, her former attorney, early on in the legal process against her.
Gudger, who also faced accusations of animal abuse under the name Barbara Ryan in Hemet, skipped out on bail and fled Kern County's charges against her in August 2008.
She was recaptured by a bail bondsman in Reseda in October 2008.
Next week a judge will rule on whether there is enough evidence to add felony charges of fleeing justice.
Gudger's court-appointed attorney, Michael Lukehart, said while the case will proceed, Gudger's mental health issues remain a concern.
"She's been found (mentally) competent," Lukehart said. "By no means does that mean that all issues in that area have been resolved."
He said he is looking into property issues connected to the warehouse on Bear Valley Road in Tehachapi where Gudger was arrested in July 2008.
Animal rescuer Kimi Peck is living on the property, owned by Beverly Hills accountant Susan Marlowe -- who also allowed Gudger to live on the property.
County code enforcement officers have issued violation notices against Peck for failing to obtain a conditional use permit to operate a shelter on the property.
"There are some people who are involved with the property and it appears to me there is a community of people in this line of ... endeavor. We will be exploring that," Lukehart said..." Link
Jan 20, 2010: Accused animal hoarder to return to trial
Mar 11, 2009: Accused animal hoarder incompetent for trial
“...Accused animal hoarder Cynthia Gudger has been found incompetent to stand trial...A Kern County Superior Court judge made the ruling Wednesday after reviewing evaluations from two doctors...Another court hearing will be held early next month to determine where Gudger will live. She'll most likely end up in a state hospital, according to the Kern County District Attorney's Office...”
Feb 11, 2009: Doctor: Dog hoarder not competent for trial
“...A doctor says accused animal hoarder Cynthia Gudger is not competent to stand trial on animal cruelty charges, but the judge in the case agreed to Gudger's request for a second opinion...”
Jan 8 2009: Hearing continued for accused animal hoarder
“...Accused animal hoarder Cynthia Gudger verbally assaulted a judge and other courtroom occupants...”
The accused animal hoarder who calls herself Anita Gilbert has been Tazered in jail. Cynthia Gudger is in jail on animal cruelty charges and due in court Tuesday for a determination of whether she's mentally competent to stand trial on the charges...The Sheriff's Department says she was banging her walker against the door of her cell and refused to stop...Authorities say they Tazed her because they felt she might injure herself or damage the door...Gudger was checked out by a doctor at Kern Medical Center....The animals are up for adoption because Gudger failed to pay $100,000 billed to her for the care of the animals...”
Oct 29, 2008: Accused Animal Hoarder Arraigned
Oct 30, 2008: Court dates set for accused animal abuser
Oct 30, 2008: Jailhouse Interview with Woman Accused of Animal Cruelty
Oct 29, 2008: Accused animal hoarder in court, facing new charge
"...We are in the process of filing an additional charge of failure to appear," said Mike Saleen from the Kern County District Attorney...The woman, whose used multiple aliases and whose real identity is unknown, was supposed to be in court in August on the original animal cruelty charges, but she went into hiding when she was also accused of threatening a public official...”
Oct 28, 2008: Suspect threatened to kill LA County judge in 1993
Oct 24, 2008: Tehachapi Woman Accused of Animal Cruelty Arrested Again
“...After she was arrested, officers say they found more than 20 cats, one dead in a freezer, in the motel room Gilbert was renting...She is not sort of a con artist,'' Herman said. "She's one of the slicked ones I have seen in a number of years...”
Oct 24, 2008: Animal abuse fugitive captured in LA area
“...Bail bondsman Bob Herman of Lancaster tracked the fugitive down in Reseda Thursday afternoon...He was watching the home of a woman who had helped Gilbert secure an apartment in Fillmore when Gilbert...When she saw the bondsman Gilbert fled...She’s a very healthy woman. She ran like a deer around the corner bellowing like a squashed cat about how she has cancer,” Herman said...”
Oct 24, 2008: Animal hoarding suspect is captured