PLEASANT PRAIRIE (WITI) -- David White, and his wife, Paula Moctezuma were in court on Wednesday, June 12 -- this time with legal representation. White and Moctezuma could face felony animal cruelty charges after 24 horses were seized from the farm and the remains of 55 more were discovered in mass graves.
The couple on Wednesday waived their right to a preliminary hearing. Their attorney, Michael Cicchini asked the judge to amend some charges from felonies to misdemeanors. The state fired back, noting the state of malnutrition of the animals, and the length of time this was allegedly going on.
The judge sided with the state.
They were back in court on Wednesday afternoon -- this time in civil court, as the Village of Pleasant Prairie is now going after them -- seeking money for the time it has cared for the horses and other animals found on the property. Pleasant Prairie officials say caring for the animals is costing an average of $750 a day -- and $24,000 has already been spent.
The judge granted the defendants a continuance, and let them go on a $2,000 cash bond.
More than 20 horses were rescued from the couple’s Pleasant Prairie farm on 128th St. The remains of 55 more were discovered in mass graves on the property. Dozens more animals were also recovered from the farm.
FOX6 News has learned of 18 reports regarding the farm over the last decade. 16 of those are complaints were about the farm’s horses. Several were made anonymously. Police were told the horses were skinny, malnourished and treated badly. But time and time again, police reported no evidence of mistreatment.
Police say until recently, they hadn’t found enough evidence to issue a search warrant of the entire property — and around 2012, David and Paula stopped allowing officers to set foot on the farm.
Police say Moctezuma was arrested back in 2002.
Her attorney says she was wanted under suspicion of stealing a horse trailer. Lawyers claim that Moctezuma was pinned to the ground and sustained a neck fracture as well as knee injuries.
“We never agreed to the claim that we had done her physical damage,” said Pollocoff.
The criminal case was thrown out by a federal judge, but Moctezuma sued for civil damages.
“We turned that over to our insurance company, we disputed,” Pollocoff said.
Moctezuma’s lawyers brag on their website about a settlement eight times the original offer.
“It was approximately $200,000,” said Pollocoff.
The village claims the lawsuit never softened its approach to the troubled farm. FOX6 News uncovered 18 complaints filed with Pleasant Prairie police that spans roughly a decade.
“When you look back at the records and problems that have existed throughout the years, were not as bad as the ultimate problem,” Pollocoff said.
In April, the village says it finally found the evidence it needed to seize animals.