Ex-Slaughterhouse Worker Arraigned on Animal Cruelty Charges
Posted on Jun 29, 2010 - 3:04 PM
June 18, 2010
Ex-slaughterhouse worker arraigned on animal cruelty charges
By Sam Hemingway, Free Press Staff Writer
A Grand Isle man was arraigned Thursday on three charges of animal cruelty arising from an investigation into abuse of calves at a Grand Isle slaughterhouse caught on camera by a Humane Society representative working undercover at the plant last year.
Update: Ex-Grand Isle slaughterhouse worker pleads not guilty
Christopher Gaudette, 37, entered pleas of not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and one felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals before Judge Ben Joseph during an afternoon hearing at Vermont District Court in North Hero. He was released on conditions.
Gaudette is one of two men facing charges following an investigation by the Attorney General's Office into the Bushway case. Police have not located the second man, Bushway co-owner Frank Perretta, 51, of Grand Isle, and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.
Bushway Packing Inc., was shut down Oct. 30 by federal health officials after the Humane Society of the United States released video footage showing calves being kicked and excessively poked with electric prods. In some cases, water was sprinkled on the calves to intensify the prods' effect.
In one portion of the video, Gaudette is shown shocking a calf numerous times as it lay on the floor of the slaughter house, according to an affidavit by Darin Barber, a detective for the Attorney General's Office.
"Gaudette is shown shocking a downed calf eleven times until the calf gets up," the affidavit said. "Gaudette then shocks another calf eight or more times, then picks up and drops a calf and then shocks it five more times. He then kicks it."
Gaudette, when questioned by Barber, said he used the prod on calves only once or twice to try to get them to stand up, the affidavit said. He also claimed the undercover videographer, Jason Smith, suggested he throw water on a calf "to wake it up" before applying the prod to the animal.
Barber wrote in the affidavit that there was no evidence on the video that Smith made such a suggestion to Gaudette.
Gaudette faces up to five years in prison and $9,000 in fines if convicted of all the charges.
Perretta told Barber he would not condone what Gaudette did, the affidavit said. Perretta has been charged with one count of animal cruelty on allegations of repeatedly shocking downed calves with an electric prod and kneeing another animal in its backside.
Following release of the videotape, federal Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the abuse "inexcusable." Outcry resulting from the release of the footage also spurred the Legislature to pass a bill to strengthen state rules for regulating slaughterhouses.
Contact Sam Hemingway at 660-1850 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To have Free Press headlines delivered free to your e-mail, sign up at www.burlingtonfreepress.com/newsletters.