Columbia woman guilty in animal abuse

April 09, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,

The daughter of an 81-year-old woman imprisoned in a cat abuse case was convicted Wednesday on similar animal cruelty charges by a Howard County judge.

Nese Icgoren, 52, of the 7300 block of Swan Court Way in Columbia faced 148 counts in the mistreatment of cats found dead or dying by animal control officers in August 2006. Authorities found more than 50 live cats, only three of which survived.

Neighbors had complained to county authorities about the odor coming from the townhouse that Icgoren shared with her mother, Ayten, and said bugs in the residence were infesting adjacent homes.

Icgoren's attorney, Anne Benaroya, tried to persuade Circuit Judge Diane Leasure to dismiss the charges. Benaroya contended that the cats belonged to Ayten, and said it was difficult to prove that Nese had "willfully" abused them.

But Leasure was not swayed, citing evidence of abuse and testimony from a neighbor.

"This is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words," Leasure said.

Nese Icgoren declined to speak on her own behalf. As part of presentencing guidelines, she was ordered to allow a veterinarian to examine a cat she owns and must turn it over to animal control if it is deemed to have been cared for improperly. Icgoren's house will be subject to random inspections by animal control officers, and Icgoren will be incarcerated if she denies them entry, Leasure said.

Nadia Wasserman, who has lived next door to the Icgorens for nearly 20 years, said she was relieved at the outcome.

"It's just been a nightmare," she said after leaving court.

The judge scheduled sentencing for July 10.

In January, Ayten Icgoren was sentenced to six months in the county detention center for violating probation on an animal cruelty conviction.

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