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Town to Pay $1000s for Cats in Animal Cruelty Case, Says Defendant [Updated 11 a.m.]

'Judge said it was the town's fault for starting the civil trial and it created an unnecessary burden for me and my mother,' says one of the defendants.

A judge ruled Tuesday that the town of Stratford will have to pay thousands of dollars for the ongoing shelter of four cats involved in an active animal cruelty case, according to one of the defendants.

William Perreira and his 91-year-old mother, Marion Perreira, were both .

But before bringing criminal charges against the Perreiras, the town filed a civil suit against them, which deals with the custody of the four cats seized Oct. 28, 2011 from the Frash Street home they both reside at.

"Civil is for possession so they can keep the animals," said William Perreira, whose mother doesn't want to give up her cats.

The two cases have complicated litigation as each trial could affect the outcome of the other, according to Judge Dale W. Radcliffe. And it seems the town isn't certain on how to proceed either, as it has asked for and been granted a motion for continuance five times since March 2012, according to court documents.

What Radcliffe ruled Tuesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, according to William Perreira, is that the town is responsible for the $15/day shelter fee for each cat, retroactive to early January when the Perreiras first appeared in court after being arrested.

As of Tuesday, the bill topped $16,000. The town will continue to be responsible for the fees until the criminal case is finished, according to Perreira. Only after the criminal case ends can the civil case start, the judge ruled, according to Perreira. The Perreiras will only be responsible for the shelter fees after the criminal case if they lose the civil case.

"Judge said it was the town's fault for starting the civil trial and it created an unnecessary burden for me and my mother," he said.

Perreira said Judge Radcliffe told the town not to bother with an appeal of the ruling because it won't change.

"The town will be appealing the ruling, but probably cannot do so until the final outcome of the case, which is likely to be many months from now," Stratford Town Attorney Tim Bishop said Wednesday, in an email. "The town's position has always been that the two cases involve different remedies and can proceed independently."

Bishop continued, "We argued that a criminal defendant is protected by his/her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in the civil proceeding and the law quite clearly contemplates this exact situation in cases of animal abuse and neglect, where the animals' best interests lie in placing them in a good home as swiftly as possible."

"I'm told today that the judge gave the criminal defendants additional relief in the form of not holding them accountable for the statutory costs of housing the animals while the criminal charges are pending," Bishop wrote. "The unfortunate result for the Stratford taxpayer is that we all have to pay to house animals in a shelter while the person accused of neglecting them can drag out the criminal and civil proceedings without any consequences."

Bishop concluded by saying the town expects the Appellate Court to side with them, and that the town will be seeking to recover legal expenses as well.

The civil case was continued to October. William and Marion Perreira are due in court for their criminal cases Friday, Sept. 7.

For more background on this case, see (Note: Marion Perreira has .)

Michael September 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I had intended to speak to Mayor Harkins personally about this situation but unfortunately he did not attend the public section of the Council meeting. I'm happy to report that 5 other people spoke on behalf of Mrs. Perreira. What I would like to do in the coming weeks is to gather some like-minded people together and form a protest at the Shelter on a Saturday, (the Shelter is public property) with signs and chants and bodies after Channels 3, 8, and 12 have been notified, to also attend another Town Council meeting with a full contingent of people showing solidarity, and putting political pressure on this Administration to end this abomination. My father taught me as a young man the when you see injustice being perpetrated on anyone but, especially a senior citizen, if you don't take some kind of action, you are just as guilty as the perpetrators themselves.
Michael September 13, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I would like to gather together as many like-minded people as possible for a peoples crusade against the injustice and meet on some Saturday, possibly on the grounds of the Shakespear Theater and put together a plan of action for Mrs. Perreira. Please contact me -grfiffinmh@yahoo.com.
stick lee September 13, 2012 at 09:20 PM
...hold on people, lets not forget the third cog in the wheel at the stfd. ac. Angeliqua Fitzmorris who has been named as a complaintant in a few of these actions.....OK..please continue.
stick lee September 23, 2012 at 08:17 PM
9-21-'12... the town gives notice to appeal.. so on it goes.
will porter December 18, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Wp Jason is there anything new in this case? I understand that the perreira 's have pictures of dirt and filth at the animal shelter.I also understand that the town attorney for Stratford filed an objection to a motion in civil court stateing that the perreira's were not harmful or cruel to their animal's.the perreira's go back to criminal court on January 22nd,by that date the bill for room and board of their cat's will be over 23 thousand dollars plus attorney fees

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