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Operator of Care Home Accused of Cruelty to Geese

June 07, 2005|From Associated Press

LOOMIS, Calif. — The operator of a home for the elderly faces 22 felony animal cruelty charges for allegedly maiming Canada geese so they couldn't fly from his property.

Titus Bujdei, owner of Lakeside Villa, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Placer County Superior Court. He could face a maximum sentence of 17 years.

Charges were filed Friday, more than a month after game wardens raided Bujdei's property and rescued the birds following complaints from a neighbor who said Bujdei was poaching geese and feeding the birds and their eggs to the facility's residents.

The California Department of Social Services has also launched an investigation into the home, which is licensed to care for six disabled people over the age of 60.

Defense lawyer Greg Elvine-Kreis told the Auburn Journal: "Frankly, this has been sensationalized by the Department of Fish and Game. The geese coupled with the residence made this story grow beyond what I think it should have, and I will be addressing this in court."

Canada geese can be hunted part of the year, but they are federally protected and it is illegal to keep them, game officials said.

Bujdei said he got the birds at an auction. Wildlife officials are testing DNA from a bloody hatchet found on his property to see whether it matches any of the birds. The hatchet was found near an area stained with blood and covered with feathers.

On April 26, wildlife officials seized 22 maimed and malnourished geese from the property. Many had infections where their wings had been clipped to prevent them from flying. One badly injured bird had to be killed.

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