Judge denies Fay's request for Humane Society tax returns for cruelty sentencingBy BEA LEWIS
Union Leader Correspondent
April 20. 2018 4:20PM
OSSIPEE – The Humane Society of the United States will not be required to release its tax returns to the defense team representing a Wolfeboro woman convicted of 17 counts of animal cruelty, a judge has ruled.
Christina Fay, 60, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11. Her defense team sought tax records of the non-profit animal welfare group that participated in the 2017 seizure of Fay’s 84 Great Dane dogs.
The Humane Society has spent $1.3 million caring for the animals so far, according to Lindsay Hamrick, the organization’s state director.
Fay was convicted of cruelty and neglect in circuit court and ordered to pay $791,720.51 in restitution, which includes $1,497.11 to be paid to Pope Memorial Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, $16,335.77 to the Town of Wolfeboro and $773,887.63 to the Humane Society.
Fay appealed the verdict and was again convicted following a jury trial in Superior Court. All of the charges are Class A misdemeanors and are punishable by a maximum of a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.
It was disclosed in an April 17 court ruling of Judge Amy Ignatius that Fay’s defense requested the confidential Humane Society financial records in anticipation of the restitution component of Fay’s pending sentence, along with other documents.
Judge Ignatius has denied defense motions to set aside the verdict as being against the weight of the evidence and to set aside the verdict for insufficient evidence.
The defense argued that the jury incorrectly interpreted the facts at trial and that reasonable doubt existed based on the testimony.
Ignatius rejected the defense’s assertion that there was no way to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to all elements of the 17 charges.
“Much of the evidence the defendant considers ‘favorable’ addressed conditions of the dogs and the defendant’s properties months and even a year or more before the seizure, or conditions of the dogs months after the seizure,” Ignatius wrote, finding no basis to conclude the jury failed to give evidence its proper weight.
The court also rejected the defense’s claim the evidence did not support the jury’s finding as a matter of law.
“The defendant’s arguments are similar to those in the motion to dismiss at the close of the state’s case, which the court denied, and the closing argument, which the jury apparently found unpersuasive,” the judge wrote.
Once her sentence is imposed, Fay may choose to appeal the conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Such a move would stall imposition of the sentence, and likely the final disposition of the dogs, until a ruling is issued, a process that could take as long as a year.