Carroll farm still can't kill livestock

July 26, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

A federal judge upheld an order yesterday banning the commercial slaughter of animals on a Carroll County farm, owned by a father and managed by his son, who have both been charged with criminal offenses including animal cruelty and selling contaminated meat.

Judge Andre M. Davis also warned owner Carroll L. Schisler Sr., 60, and his son, Carroll Jr., 34, that a violation of the order could bring fines, jail time and even confiscation of the 112-acre farm in the rural hamlet of Marston in western Carroll.

The judge had issued a temporary restraining order Friday on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, after being shown USDA photographs - taken from a neighboring property - that documented the July 15 slaughter of a goat or sheep on the Marston farm.

Drivers leaving the farm with bags and coolers of meat told federal inspectors that day that they had purchased live animals that were killed and packaged on the property, according to court documents.

But the elder Schisler said after yesterday's hearing that his butcher shop, which primarily served Muslim clientele, stopped operating in April. He also said he removed all equipment from his small slaughterhouse last week and painted over its "open" sign.

"The only goats I've sold since April were two to a man who took them home and killed them in his bathtub," Schisler told reporters.

Roland Walker, the elder Schisler's attorney, said his client deserves less of the blame because he now lives in Pennsylvania and returns to the farm only to check his mail.

"The question naturally arises: Who is in control?" Davis said of the father and son during an hour and a half hearing late yesterday afternoon in Baltimore's U.S. District Court. "Are they partners? Is this a joint operation? Maybe they don't see eye to eye on things. Could the result be one getting in trouble for what the other does?"

Because the elder Schisler owns the farm, he would bear responsibility for any of his son's actions on the property, Davis said.

The farm deteriorated while the younger Schisler, who goes by the nickname "Hot Shot," served a five-month jail term that ended in March, according to his attorney, Daniel H. Green.

Father and son arrived in court separately yesterday. The elder Schisler came early with his girlfriend. The younger Schisler, his 10-month-old son, Nathaniel, and pregnant girlfriend, Rise Yox, were driven to court by Green.

Both lawyers said the farm has been cleaned up and that their clients will work to comply with federal meat inspection laws.

A band of parasite-infected pigs euthanized last week were believed to have wandered from the Schisler farm to neighboring properties, state agriculture officials reported earlier. A state swine quarantine remains in effect, forbidding any pigs, dead or alive, from being brought in or taken off the property.

The family's spat with the county humane society over animal-cruelty allegations stretches back at least 16 years.

With a pending criminal trial, the Schislers declined to testify in yesterday's hearing.

In mid-July, state police arrested the Schislers on a 19-count indictment that includes charges of animal cruelty, feeding garbage to swine and selling contaminated meat on the property. The charges stemmed from two raids by federal and state investigators in the spring.

laura.mccandlish@balt sun.com

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