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Alchemy Acres board gets probation

LISBON – The four members of the Sacco family who serve on Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary board have pleaded no contest to neglect charges after 197 animals in bad shape were seized from an animal shelter they operated in Perry Township.

After entering no contest pleas to a single count of animal neglect, county Municipal Court Judge Tim McNicol found Stephen, Julie, Emily and Katie Sacco guilty during Friday’s hearing.

The Saccos were sentenced to three months in the county jail, but their sentences suspended and were placed on probation for five years and each ordered to pay a $750 fine. As part of the plea deal, the Saccos were required to relinquish ownership of the seized animals but will be allowed to keep their personal pets.

As part of their probation, the Saccos are prohibited from owning, operating or being associated with an animal rescue or animal related organization or business. They also agree any law enforcement officer or humane agent can inspect any non-residential property or buildings they own or control to confirm no animals are being kept there.

The nearly 200 animals were seized last month from the Alchemy Acres site on Depot Road by the Columbiana County Humane Society. Approximately 167 of the animals were dogs and cats, while the remaining animals included rabbits, ferrets, chinchillas and birds. Since the raid many have been adopted, which the Saccos agreed at their initial court appearance.

The attorney for the humane society said after a prior hearing this was a case of well-intentioned people who had started out caring for animals, but got to the place where they could no longer care for the animals they rescued but just continued to take them in anyway. The attorney described the conditions the animals were kept in as poor and said the animals lacked proper veterinarian care.

As part of the agreement, the humane society agreed not pursue charges against anyone else on the board of Alchemy Acres or the volunteers involved in the organization.

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