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Plea Deal Goes to Judge in Animal Cruelty Case

June 18, 2003|Wendy Thermos | Times Staff Writer

A long-running animal abuse case against a West Hills woman could be settled today with a plea bargain that allows her to avoid jail time by agreeing never again to operate a pet shelter, attorneys on both sides said.

Marge Weems, 58, whose residential property was raided by animal regulators in November 2001, is charged with felony animal cruelty. Authorities said they impounded about 60 domestic cats after finding that many lived in cramped, unhealthful conditions. Since 1992, Weems has operated Angel Puss and Pooch Rescue in Canoga Park and claims to have saved as many as 4,000 cats and dogs a year from being euthanized.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff will receive a recommendation from Deputy Dist. Atty. Tracy Watson to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor if Weems pleads no contest and agrees to "get out of the animal adoption and housing business." Weems also would be barred from keeping any pets on her property.

Defense attorney Richard Sherman said he and his client agreed to the deal and they expect the judge to accept it.

"It's a middle ground," he said, declining to discuss the case further.

When animal control officers cited Weems, she was on probation for a previous conviction for violating a kennel law that bars residents from having more than four adult domestic cats on a lot.

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