Charges tossed in horse cruelty case

VERA CHINESE FILE PHOTO | A malnourished horse and pony at Abbess Farm in Calverton in 2011, when the horse's owner could not access the party.
VERA CHINESE FILE PHOTO | A malnourished horse and pony at Abbess Farm in Calverton in 2011, when the horse’s owner could not access the property.

Animal cruelty charges brought nearly two years ago against a Flanders woman were dropped in Riverhead Town Justice Court last week.

Marie Tooker, 48, of Flanders Road in Flanders, had been charged with three counts of having malnourished and neglected horses on a farm she owned in Calverton. The Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had brought the charges for an incidents police said occurred in April of 2011.

The charges were dismissed in Riverhead Town Justice Allen Smith’s court last Tuesday on the motion of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, according to court officials.

Representatives from the District Attorney’s office did not return calls seeking comment.

Ms. Tooker had owned Abbess Farm, a 130-acre horse farm on Route 25, and she had frequently said she planned to open a home for homeless veterans and a camp for underprivileged children on that property.

On April 29, 2011, the Suffolk SPCA raided the property and took custody of two dozen horses and other animals. They claimed that two horses were locked in a barn with no food or water and that one of them was malnourished and the other had an eye infection.

Ms. Tooker says she is innocent of the charges and wasn’t even permitted on the land at the time due to a foreclosure procedure brought by her father, Sal Guerrera, and his company, Qwest Ventures.

As part of the foreclosure action, the land had been put under receivership by state Supreme Court Judge Paul Baisley on Feb. 16, 2011 and Ms. Tooker says she was barred from the land as of April 20, 2011.

She claims the court-appointed receiver was responsible for the condition of the horses and other animals on the site at the time.

“The real criminals are being left free, because the act did happen,” she said Friday. “They did lock the animals up with no food or water.”

Ms. Tooker wasn’t charged until July 2011, but those charges had been incorrectly brought in Southampton Town and were dismissed there.

On April 11, 2012, the charges were brought again, but this time in Riverhead Town.

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