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200 charges filed against Pulaski property owner

A year after a court ordered a man to clean up hundreds of dead rats from his Pulaski County property, Virginia State Police are in the process of filing 200 additional charges against him this week.
State Police Sgt. Michael Honaker said this is the third time charges have been filed against 45-year-old Alexander Montgomery Nelson IV of Cordell Drive in Roanoke. Nelson also owns property on Lead Mines Road.
He said the charges are the result of an investigation that determined Nelson “has routinely possessed large volumes of dead rats, which have been found strewn throughout” the property.
Honaker explained that Nelson’s property isn’t infested with rats, but rather Nelson is bringing the rats to the property from outside the county. He pointed out that the rats are large white laboratory rats.
The investigation began in May 2008 when State Police received an anonymous complaint of a “foul odor” in the area around Nelson’s residence.
When Trooper M. A. Newberry went to investigate, the officer found “hundreds of dead rats” around the residence. Honaker said Nelson claimed to be disposing of the rats “as part of an agreement with a university in the area that needed someone to dispose of the rats.”
However, Honaker said the investigation was unable to locate any college or university having any such agreement with Nelson.
Nelson was charged with improperly disposing of dead animals and was convicted of the charge in Pulaski County General District Court June 10, 2008. Honaker said the judge ordered Nelson to clean up the property. According to court records, Nelson also was fined $250.
According to Honaker, State Police had to return to the property in January when the department received another complaint that “the dead rats had not been cleaned up and that more rats had actually been brought from an undisclosed location to the property.”
When Trooper D. M. Reece confirmed that more dead rats had been strewn about the property, Nelson was charged once again.
Although Nelson was not convicted of that charge during a March hearing, court records show it was taken under advisement until Oct. 27. Honaker said the court again ordered Nelson to clean up the dead animals and keep the property clear of animal carcasses.
However, Honaker said the department received a report last month that a large number of dead rats were once again on the property. An investigation by Newberry and Sgt. D. I. Compton found “hundreds of dead rats accumulated on the property, but on this occasion the rats had been placed under tarpaulins.”
As a result, Nelson is being charged with a separate violation for each dead rat found on the property. Failure to properly dispose of a dead animal is a Class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $250. That means Nelson could be ordered to pay a $50,000 fine if convicted on all 200 charges being obtained against him.
“This is an odd case with some still unresolved questions,” Honaker said.
First, he noted, police have not been able to determine where Nelson is obtaining the rats even though they “are white lab rats that are presumably already dead when they are brought into Pulaski County.”
Second, police don’t know why Nelson places the dead rats on the property. Honaker said the man informed troopers on one occasion “that he enjoyed watching scavenger birds feeding on the animals.” But he said police are not sure but what there is “some other reason for disposing of the rats in Pulaski County.”
“As you can imagine, it is not a very pleasant site when you see hundreds of dead and decaying rats placed in piles in someone’s yard. We can’t help but believe that such an accumulation of dead animals not only produces an offensive odor in the area, but it could also present a health hazard,” Honaker said.
State Police have notified the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) of the situation and are continuing to investigate the case.

200 charges filed against Pulaski property owner

A year after a court ordered a man to clean up hundreds of dead rats from his Pulaski County property, Virginia State Police are in the process of filing 200 additional charges against him this week.
State Police Sgt. Michael Honaker said this is the third time charges have been filed against 45-year-old Alexander Montgomery Nelson IV of Cordell Drive in Roanoke. Nelson also owns property on Lead Mines Road.
He said the charges are the result of an investigation that determined Nelson “has routinely possessed large volumes of dead rats, which have been found strewn throughout” the property.
Honaker explained that Nelson’s property isn’t infested with rats, but rather Nelson is bringing the rats to the property from outside the county. He pointed out that the rats are large white laboratory rats.
The investigation began in May 2008 when State Police received an anonymous complaint of a “foul odor” in the area around Nelson’s residence.
When Trooper M. A. Newberry went to investigate, the officer found “hundreds of dead rats” around the residence. Honaker said Nelson claimed to be disposing of the rats “as part of an agreement with a university in the area that needed someone to dispose of the rats.”
However, Honaker said the investigation was unable to locate any college or university having any such agreement with Nelson.
Nelson was charged with improperly disposing of dead animals and was convicted of the charge in Pulaski County General District Court June 10, 2008. Honaker said the judge ordered Nelson to clean up the property. According to court records, Nelson also was fined $250.
According to Honaker, State Police had to return to the property in January when the department received another complaint that “the dead rats had not been cleaned up and that more rats had actually been brought from an undisclosed location to the property.”
When Trooper D. M. Reece confirmed that more dead rats had been strewn about the property, Nelson was charged once again.
Although Nelson was not convicted of that charge during a March hearing, court records show it was taken under advisement until Oct. 27. Honaker said the court again ordered Nelson to clean up the dead animals and keep the property clear of animal carcasses.
However, Honaker said the department received a report last month that a large number of dead rats were once again on the property. An investigation by Newberry and Sgt. D. I. Compton found “hundreds of dead rats accumulated on the property, but on this occasion the rats had been placed under tarpaulins.”
As a result, Nelson is being charged with a separate violation for each dead rat found on the property. Failure to properly dispose of a dead animal is a Class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $250. That means Nelson could be ordered to pay a $50,000 fine if convicted on all 200 charges being obtained against him.
“This is an odd case with some still unresolved questions,” Honaker said.
First, he noted, police have not been able to determine where Nelson is obtaining the rats even though they “are white lab rats that are presumably already dead when they are brought into Pulaski County.”
Second, police don’t know why Nelson places the dead rats on the property. Honaker said the man informed troopers on one occasion “that he enjoyed watching scavenger birds feeding on the animals.” But he said police are not sure but what there is “some other reason for disposing of the rats in Pulaski County.”
“As you can imagine, it is not a very pleasant site when you see hundreds of dead and decaying rats placed in piles in someone’s yard. We can’t help but believe that such an accumulation of dead animals not only produces an offensive odor in the area, but it could also present a health hazard,” Honaker said.
State Police have notified the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) of the situation and are continuing to investigate the case.