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Man has month to remove dead rats

A Pulaski County property owner has a month to remove dead rats from his land or face conviction on 200 counts of improperly disposing of animal carcasses.
Pulaski County General District Court Judge Danny Bird told 45-year-old Alexander Montgomery Nelson IV there was sufficient evidence to prove the carcasses are “offensive” to Nelson’s neighbors and the public, therefore evidence is sufficient to find Nelson guilty on all 200 misdemeanor charges filed earlier this summer.
However, Judge Bird agreed to hold off making a finding of guilt under several conditions.
According to a draft order prepared by Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor, but not yet approved by the court or defense attorney Max Jenkins, Nelson was given a month to “clean up and otherwise remove all the live and dead rats, rat parts” and rat carcasses on the Lead Mines Road property.
The court also:
• Gave Nelson 30 days to move his “rat operation” out of Pulaski County;
• Authorized State Police or any other law enforcement agency to go onto the property to monitor Nelson’s progress in meeting the court’s terms and to confirm the property has been cleared of the carcasses by the deadline;
• Ordered Nelson to cease raising rats or obtaining rats “alive or dead” on the Hiwassee property; and
• Indicated Nelson will be subject to being found in contempt of court if the court’s terms and conditions are violated.
According to the proposed court order, the deadline for meeting the court’s requirements is Oct. 8. Nelson is slated to be back in court Oct. 13.
Nelson, who runs Classy Critters pet shops in Radford and Roanoke, lists his home address as Cordell Drive in Roanoke.
Fleenor said Nelson indicated he raises some of the rats in Radford and gets others from various businesses. Nelson has told authorities he puts the rats out to watch scavenger birds feed. He also indicated he distributes them to wildlife centers and Natural Bridge Zoo.
Neighbors and state troopers told the court the odor from the decaying carcasses is unbearable, overwhelming and nauseating.
The defendant said he tried to hold down the odor by covering the remains of the carcasses with tarps or mulch, a practice that the judge said is not sufficient.
State Police First Sgt. Michael Honaker said earlier this summer this is the third time charges have been filed against Nelson for having dead rats on his property.
He said 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 at that time ordered Nelson to clean up the property. According to court records, Nelson also was fined $250.
Honaker said State Police returned 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 another report in May.
An investigation by Newberry and Sgt. D. I. Compton found “hundreds of dead rats” under tarps on the property.
As a result, Nelson was 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.

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Man has month to remove dead rats

A Pulaski County property owner has a month to remove dead rats from his land or face conviction on 200 counts of improperly disposing of animal carcasses.
Pulaski County General District Court Judge Danny Bird told 45-year-old Alexander Montgomery Nelson IV there was sufficient evidence to prove the carcasses are “offensive” to Nelson’s neighbors and the public, therefore evidence is sufficient to find Nelson guilty on all 200 misdemeanor charges filed earlier this summer.
However, Judge Bird agreed to hold off making a finding of guilt under several conditions.
According to a draft order prepared by Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor, but not yet approved by the court or defense attorney Max Jenkins, Nelson was given a month to “clean up and otherwise remove all the live and dead rats, rat parts” and rat carcasses on the Lead Mines Road property.
The court also:
• Gave Nelson 30 days to move his “rat operation” out of Pulaski County;
• Authorized State Police or any other law enforcement agency to go onto the property to monitor Nelson’s progress in meeting the court’s terms and to confirm the property has been cleared of the carcasses by the deadline;
• Ordered Nelson to cease raising rats or obtaining rats “alive or dead” on the Hiwassee property; and
• Indicated Nelson will be subject to being found in contempt of court if the court’s terms and conditions are violated.
According to the proposed court order, the deadline for meeting the court’s requirements is Oct. 8. Nelson is slated to be back in court Oct. 13.
Nelson, who runs Classy Critters pet shops in Radford and Roanoke, lists his home address as Cordell Drive in Roanoke.
Fleenor said Nelson indicated he raises some of the rats in Radford and gets others from various businesses. Nelson has told authorities he puts the rats out to watch scavenger birds feed. He also indicated he distributes them to wildlife centers and Natural Bridge Zoo.
Neighbors and state troopers told the court the odor from the decaying carcasses is unbearable, overwhelming and nauseating.
The defendant said he tried to hold down the odor by covering the remains of the carcasses with tarps or mulch, a practice that the judge said is not sufficient.
State Police First Sgt. Michael Honaker said earlier this summer this is the third time charges have been filed against Nelson for having dead rats on his property.
He said 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 at that time ordered Nelson to clean up the property. According to court records, Nelson also was fined $250.
Honaker said State Police returned 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 another report in May.
An investigation by Newberry and Sgt. D. I. Compton found “hundreds of dead rats” under tarps on the property.
As a result, Nelson was 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.

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