Farm owner, tenants charged with animal cruelty

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WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) —  The owner of a Westport farm and 26 tenants who rented out space on the property have been indicted on multiple charges of animal cruelty, making it the largest investigation of its kind in New England, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.

The grand jury returned the 151-count animal cruelty indictment Thursday.

IN-DEPTH:Westport Farm Abuse »

The charges stem from an investigation which began last July after they received a 911 call to the 70-acre farm located off American Legion Highway.

Investigators said two starved rottweilers from one of the lots escaped and broke into another lot where they attacked and consumed a number of goats.

During the course of their investigation, they found hundreds of animals living in filth.

“Hundreds of animals on this farm were kept in deplorable and dangerous conditions, with inadequate food, water, or shelter, many of them suffering from severe health ailments that required them to be euthanized,” said AG Healey. “As a result of our investigation, the owner of this farm and its tenants will be held responsible for the inhumane treatment of these animals.”

Investigators said the farm’s owner, Richard Medeiros, rented lots out to multiple tenants.

They said approximately 1,400 animals were living on the farm, including dogs, cats, cows, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.

Some of them were living in manure so deep their hooves rotted off. Others suffered eye, intestinal, and skin ailments, as well as a number of contagious diseases.

“This situation is unparalleled to anything I’ve seen in my 37 years as an animal law enforcement officer. The sheer number of animals in dire need of care and the cruel and unsanitary conditions we found were deplorable. It took an all-out effort of state and local officials along with multiple humane organizations to get all of those animals out of that horrible situation,” said Lt. Alan Borgal, Animal Rescue League of Boston.

The following individuals were included in the indictment.

  • Richard Medeiros, 83, of Westport (21 counts)
  • Eduardo Caetano, 51, of Fall River (4 counts)
  • Messias P. Farias, 74, of Fall River (1 count)
  • Luis Machado, 56, of New Bedford (8 counts)
  • Eddy DeAguiar, 37, of Fall River (10 counts)
  • Joao Aguiar, 73, of Fall River (10 counts)
  • Octavio Botelho, 51, of Fall River (6 counts)
  • Luis Pacheco, 57, of Fall River (3 counts)
  • Emmanuel DeSousa, 47, of Fall River (4 counts)
  • Diana Magalhaes, 46, of Fall River, (4 counts)
  • Bruno Magalhaes, 32, of Fall River (4 counts)
  • Jose Botelho, 64, of Fall River (11 counts)
  • Joseph Rego, 40, of Fall River (4 counts)
  • Jeffrey Brilhante, 36, of Fall River (9 counts)
  • Jose Aguiar, 66, of Fall River (9 counts)
  • Antonio Dias, 64, of Fall River (5 counts)
  • Eduardo Vultao, 51, of Dighton (4 counts)
  • John Melo, 45, of Fall River (5 counts)
  • Arthur Arruda, 53, of New Bedford (5 counts)
  • Rhonda Gadomski, 50, of Fall River (3 counts)
  • Kenneth Bellevance Jr., 44, of Westport (3 counts)
  • Scottie Medeiros, 31, of Fall River (1 count)
  • Timothy Cabral, 32, of Fall River (4 counts)
  • Jose Reis, 58, of Fall River (3 counts)
  • Antonio Medeiros, 42, of Tiverton (1 count)
  • Donald Rapoza, 61, of New Bedford (8 counts)
  • Emanuel Gaspar, 55, of Fall River (1 count)

The AG’s office said the defendants will be arraigned in Bristol County Superior Court at a later date.

RELATED: Hundreds of dead, injured animals found in Westport

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