SC men plead not guilty to setting illegal traps

For the pair of Seneca County men who have been accused of setting illegal traps along the Seneca Army Depot fence line, both entered a plea of not guilty on Friday morning in court.In January, the Department of Environmental Conservation charged James Brown, 80, of Seneca Falls — and Clint Moosman, 53, of Seneca Falls with 12 counts of setting traps larger than 6-inches and failing to identify the traps as required by New York State law.The charges stemmed from an incident along the Army Depot fence line on January 7th when Laurena Jensen, 18, was walking along the fence in Varick with her pet dog, Molly, when the dog became entangled in one of the illegal traps. According to Brian Jensen, Laurena’s father, the dog suffered for roughly five minutes before Molly finally died from her injuries. The Conibear 220 trap, which was the one that killed the Jensen’s family pet — is the type of trap used to capture larger animals, which precisely explains why Laurena, as much as she tried, could not free her pet dog from the trap. According to Brian Jensen, she is seeing a counselor to cope with the tragedy of not only losing her beloved pet, but being forced to watch the animal die in the gruesome scene.The 12 counts carry a fine of $250 per count, and/or 15 days in jail. When the DEC investigated the scene and surrounding area, they found an additional 11 traps, which were illegally placed. Traps of this nature are meant to be marked, announced, and placed in a way that prevents animals like dogs from becoming the victim of them. It was an emotional scene at the court house today as Brian and Carrie Jensen appeared in their continued fight for justice. Carrie Jensen even brought photos of Molly to the court house. Last week before the day in court, Melissa Lewis, the PETA Caseworker assigned to this particular case — told FingerLakes1.com that she remained “Hopeful that charges could be filed,” by Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch. However, Mark Sienkiewicz, the Seneca County First Assistant District Attorney assigned to prosecute this case said that he was unaware of any cruelty charges — like those Lewis and the Jensen family had been pushing for. Sienkiewicz equated the illegal trapping violation to fishing without a license, citing that there was no victim — like there would be in a murder or assault case. Another issue within this case is the ongoing battle regarding the future of the Seneca Army Depot, which is at the center of a bidding process that is under evaluation by the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency. They have shared the responsibility of maintaining and granting access to the Depot with the Army, who still maintains certain parts — like the part where Molly lost her life.Access to these parts of the Depot are restricted and those who have been advocating for more significant charges have maintained that this uncertainty with who manages the facility has played a major role in the “confusion” along the way.Regarding the more extensive charges, Melissa Lewis explained to FingerLakes1.com that it all centers around a portion of law known as the “Agriculture and Markets Law.” She said there are two provisions within the law. In her estimation, the second provision of the law fits this instance — if Seneca County is willing to pursue the charges.Lewis explained, “The second portion of the Agriculture and Markets Law is the misdemeanor portion, and that portion says that it’s illegal to unjustifiably injure or kill an animal regardless of intent.” She went on to explain that “This is the law we’ve asked local and state officials; including the DEC, Sheriff’s Department, and District Attorney’s Office in Seneca County to charge.””It’s a very straightforward law with very straightforward language and it’s baffling to us and much of the public that the charges were not filed right away,” Lewis concluded.One question that has been asked frequently is why has it been so difficult for the district attorney’s office to work toward the more significant charges. Earlier in March an Ontario County woman made headlines when she was charged with 18 counts of animal cruelty for failing to provide food and water to several confined animals.Brown and Moosman are set to appear in court again on May 27th at 10:30 am. Photo by Laurena Jensen.

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