Nashua restaurateur says Londonderry horse cruelty charges are bogusBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent
October 04. 2017 10:09PM
LONDONDERRY — The co-owner of a Nashua restaurant is denying an animal cruelty charge this week after police say he did not properly contain and care for his horses at a Londonderry farm.
Christopher Fokas, 55, of Amherst, was served a warrant for his arrest Sunday evening following reports he did not respond to a list of issues at his Perkins Road property related to the horses.
He is currently the co-owner of Martha’s Exchange, a restaurant and microbrewery on Main Street in Nashua, with his brother Bill.
Fokas is scheduled to appear in Derry District Court on Nov. 21 to answer the charge of animal cruelty, according to the Londonderry Police Department.
On Wednesday, Fokas showed off his two Paint horses and two Tennessee Walkers. He strolled right into their stables and gave each one a hug.
“There’s no chance you could do this to an abused horse … there’s no way I could come in here and do this if they were mishandled or mistreated,” he said, rubbing the mane and forelock on Lexi, one of his female horses.
Fokas called the whole situation “bizarre” and noted he is going to fight the charge.
“I can walk in here and hug her,” he added. “Their stalls are cleaned every day. I have two college students that come daily to turn them out daily.”
New Hampshire State Veterinarian Stephen K. Crawford said his office visited the premises in July to observe the three horses with the Londonderry Police Department.
At that time, Crawford said his office made several recommendations — follow up with their local veterinarian, have the horses’ mouths examined by a dentist and their feet trimmed by a farrier and improve the fencing to keep horses from escaping.
“We left it to the PD to follow up with Mr. Fokas on these issues. While we have not been back to the premises since July, we have communicated with (the police department) on occasion,” he said.
LPD Det. Christopher Olson said the department was getting repeated calls for loose horses on Perkins Road.
The investigation from the agriculture department found he did not have proper stalls or fencing for the horses, Olson said, and the animals were living in poor conditions.
“They had a lack of water and a lack of electricity,” he said.
“We investigated five incidents of loose horses in two-and-a-half months, one of the incidents resulted in a severe motor vehicle accident and an injury to one of the horses,” Olson added. “So that coupled with the previous investigations and calls we had down there regarding the quality of the living conditions for the horses results in this particular warrant.”
Fokas called the charge the farthest thing from the truth. “The police were called a few times … and when they come over there were no problems, so honestly I’m completely baffled,” he said.
Fokas also questioned the accident report, saying he contacted the police and found no record of a collision with his horses, or an insurance claim.
“I’ve had vets out and trainers out looking at the horses. There’s no sign of any physical attributes that would be associated with an accident,” he said. “I have no idea what’s going on, absolutely no idea.”