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UPDATE: Tick Canyon 'rancher' charged in animal abuse case

Posted: April 10, 2012 11:30 a.m.
Updated: April 10, 2012 6:31 p.m.

A 26-year-old Canyon Country man is accused of unlawfully slaughtering animals for sale over a six-month period in connection with the recent rescue of 29 emaciated farm animals.

Roberto Celedon, who lives on Tick Canyon Road, was arrested March 26 on 13 criminal charges in relation to the slaughter of farm animals and the sale of their meat, law-enforcement officials said Tuesday.

The next day, Celedon appeared in San Fernando Superior Court for an arraignment on the charges. He entered a plea of not guilty and posted $65,000 bail on April 2.

On Monday, the district attorney's office mistakenly reported that no formal complaint had been filed, a spokeswoman said.

As it turns out, a seven-page felony complaint against Celedon signed by Deputy District Attorney Julie Kramer had been filed with Los Angeles Superior Court on March 22.

Officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, acting on a second warrant issued in the case by the district attorney, took control of the animals found on Celedon's property April 3.

The large animals identified in the complaint - a horse, five cattle, 14 goats and nine sheep - were put in the care of the Gentle Barn animal rescue nonprofit on Sierra Highway, said District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison.

Smaller animals rescued, including pigeons and chickens, were turned over to the Castaic Animal Shelter.

News of Gentle Barn workers treating the emaciated animals emerged April 5.

The animals most seriously injured, one horse and one goat, are responding to medicine and nutrition, Gentle Barn President Jay Weiner said Tuesday.

"We're going to get them all up to speed," Weiner said.
"With the horse, antibiotics are key because the infection is down to the bone," he said, referring to a gash in one of the horse's legs.

According to prosecutors, Celedon ran an unlawful slaughterhouse described as dirty and unsanitary that operated without a licence and without inspection.
Structures on his property were described as unsafe and unsanitary for the animals housed in them.

In one of the counts against him, Celedon is accused of inhumanely slaughtering a goat on Aug. 26, a violation of the California Food and Agriculture Code.

Prosecutors allege Celedon "did willfully and unlawfully slaughter a goat without rendering the animal insensible to pain."

Other charges include allegations he slaughtered animals at a facility "not in compliance" with state code and that he sold meat from that slaughter that had not been inspected.

With respect to the care of the animals cited in the complaint, Celedon is accused of having subjected a bull and a baby goat to needless suffering by failing to provide proper food, drink and shelter for them during the first week of January.

Most of the crimes occurred between Aug. 19 and Jan. 11, the district attorney said.

Celedon was ordered to appear back in court next week to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

If convicted on the 13 charges in the complaint, he faces a possible four years and four months in custody.



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