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'Backyard butcher' sentenced to 90 days

Posted: May 24, 2012 7:33 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2012 7:33 p.m.

A Canyon Country man accused of unlawfully slaughtering animals for sale pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in county jail, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's office said.

Roberto Celedon, 26, of Tick Canyon Road, appeared briefly in San Fernando Superior Court on Thursday, where he pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty, a felony, and to having operated a meat-producing plant without a licence, a misdemeanor, said District Attorney's office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

"There are search-and-seizure conditions related this case," Gibbons said.

Celedon was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years' probation, as well as being ordered not to possess any animals for slaughter, not to operate a meat-producing facility, not to attend auctions where animals are sold and not to sell any meat products.

He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and submit to a DNA sample, Gibbons said.

The convicted backyard butcher was ordered to appear in court June 26, when he is expected to surrender himself and begin serving 90 days in Los Angeles County jail.

He is expected to appear in court one other time after that for a restitution hearing, Gibbons said.

Celedon was arrested March 26 on 13 criminal charges in relation to the slaughter of farm animals and the sale of their meat over a six-month period, according to a seven-page felony complaint filed by Deputy District Attorney Julie Kramer.

The next day, Celedon - identified by deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station in their arrest report as a "rancher" - appeared in court and entered a plea of not guilty.

According to prosecutors, Celedon ran an unlawful slaughterhouse described as dirty and unsanitary that operated without a licence and without inspection.

Structures on his property were described as unsafe and unsanitary for the animals housed in them.

Celedon sold meat to individuals who would come to his home to purchase it, running what's commonly called a "backyard butcher" operation - a violation of the law, said Jane Robison of the district attorney's office shortly after his arrest.

There is no evidence to suggest Celedon sold any meat to stores of any retail outlets, she said at the time.

Officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, acting on a specific warrant issued in relation to the animals observed on Celedon's property, took control of those animals April 3.

Smaller animals rescued, including pigeons and chickens, were turned over to the Castaic Animal Shelter.

The large animals identified in the complaint - a horse, five cattle, 14 goats and nine sheep - were put in the care of the Gentle Barn animal rescue nonprofit on Sierra Highway, rescuers have said.

The health of the rescued animals improved in the weeks following their relocation to Gentle Barn.

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