2010-12-16 / Front Page

Clark Charged With Animal Cruelty In Pig Deaths

DA, police dispel pig death-related rumors
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

On the heels of 832 counts of animal cruelty being lodged against an area farmer, Pennsylvania State Police and the Fulton County district attorney met this week to dispel a variety of rumors that originated when hundreds of pig carcasses were recently discovered on a 218-acre farm in Buck Valley.

Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. William Baker of the Mc- Connellsburg substation has cited Daniel Lee Clark Sr., who previously owned and operated a hog finishing operation at 949 Harmon Lane, Warfordsburg, in the death of 832 pigs that perished between February and March 2009.

Filed Thursday, December 9, through Magisterial District Judge Carol Jean Johnson, the criminal complaint prepared by Cpl. Baker maintains Clark “failed to protect and provide for approximately 832 animals (hogs), by neglecting them to die, without rendering assistance in regards to shelter, food, water and subjecting them to cold/freezing conditions.”

Currently residing at 13302 St. Paul Road, Clear Spring, Md., Clark will be notified of the summary offenses via summons. He will have 10 days from the filing date to respond to the charges. He is represented by defense attorney Clint Barkdoll.

Each summary offense carries a fine range of $50 to $750 per count as well as a maximum incarceration of 90 days offense.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Clark, 47, shared with police investigators that he experienced a malfunction with his liquid manure system that in turned caused a “die off” of hogs.

“Clark claims that the system in the lower of two hog barns, backed up and that liquid manure and water flooded out of the barn,” said the affidavit. “Clark related he could not get into the barn to help the pigs, however, he did manage to get some out.”

Baker told the “News” his discussion with Clark revealed the farmer was able to allegedly free several hundred pigs. He did not contact anyone for assistance when the system malfunctioned and “did not do anything to get the pigs out of the mess.”

“Eventually they (the pigs) died of drowning, freezing and hypothermia in Clark’s estimation,” the affidavit further states. “After the pigs died, Clark related he failed to clean up the carcasses and simply let the dead animals in the barns. He had no explanation as to why he didn’t clean up the dead animals.”

Official ownership of the Union Township property, belonging to Daniel and Kerron Clark, was solely transferred to Kerron Clark on September 28, 2010. The farm was in turn placed for sale on the real estate market through Long and Foster Real Estate. Following the carcass discovery in early November, the company issued a public statement that the realtor should not have listed the property until a complete examination of the property was done. That inspection would have included the barns that were allegedly blocked from easy access by farm equipment.

Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall shared with the “News” that the defendant, Daniel Clark Sr., has been cooperative throughout the course of the investigation. He added Clark has been the “target” of some statements that are not factual.

Among the mistruths aired was the statement linked to the blockage of the barn doors by farm equipment. The district attorney stated the sole piece of equipment blocking any building on the property was a skidloader parked in front of the farmhouse that was constructed in the 1900s. The skidloader was personally placed there by Clark to prevent anyone from entering and vandalizing the vacant home.

Kendall went on to say there was also no evidence of the hogs attempting to break through the doors of the finishing barns. The pigs, he said were kept in steel pens. Furthermore, there were not any pig carcasses found in the buildings’ walkways that were reportedly clean.

“There is no evidence to support this claim. Damage to the doors wasn’t from rooting. It was from a dog scratching,” added Baker and Kendall.

The district attorney also reported an assumption was made that the hogs perished over the summer months, but evidence gathered at the scene supports the fact they died much earlier. In fact, several pigs removed from the barns underwent further lab examination and necropsy. The results revealed the pigs exhibited signs of “post mortal dessication and indicated they were dead for an extended period of time prior to discovery on November 8, 2010.”

The district attorney and state police investigator stated there was also no evidence found that would link the incident to a power outage. “This is what happens when people jump to conclusions without first having all of the evidence,” they said.

Clean up at the farm has concluded and was overseen by the Department of Agriculture with Clark assisting.

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