Defendant in big Summit Township animal-cruelty case wins ruling on probation

The defendant in a massive animal-cruelty case will be able to get out of prison as he fights hundreds of charges that he mistreated dogs, sheep, goats and other animals on his farm on Edinboro Road farm in Summit Township.

The defendant, Gregory S. Havican, won his release on Wednesday. Erie County Judge Daniel Brabender ruled in a way that lifted the detainer who had been holding Havican in the Erie County Prison on probation violations since his arrest on the animal-cruelty charges in November.

Criminal case proceeds: Farm or no farm? Summit man challenges animal cruelty case as most charges held for court

Havican was charged in that case while he was serving four years of probation for his conviction for stealing 15 bushels of apples from a farm stand in Union City in 2014. The new charges represented a probation violations, and the detainer had kept Havican in prison.

Brabender on Wednesday revoked Havican’s probation because of the new charges. But he sent him to probation instead of keeping him in prison.

Havican’s bond in the animal-cruelty case is $150,000 unsecured, meaning he must post no money to get out but would owe $150,000 if he failed to appear at court hearings. Havican was expected to be released from prison later on Wednesday.

Why did the judge hold a revocation hearing?

Havican’s lawyer, Charbel Latouf, asked Brabender to hold the revocation hearing to give Havican a chance to get out of prison as he contests the new charges.

The prosecutor, First Assistant District Attorney Jessica Reger, had argued that the judge should not hold the revocation hearing until the animal-cruelty case was over, a situation that would have kept Havican in prison on the detainer. Reger said the defendants held on probation detainers typically did not have revocation hearings until after the new criminal charges were resolved.

Havican, 49, said he would not be a problem while out of prison.

“I have never missed a probation appointment,” he told Brabender.

Latouf, his lawyer, argued that Havican should get out of prison so he could fulfill the construction jobs he had promised to undertake as a contractor.

“He was providing a service to the community,” Latouf said in court.

What are the charges against Havican in animal-cruelty case?

The animal-cruelty case against Havican is one of the largest recently prosecuted in Erie County. Havican is accused of neglecting or mistreating the animals on his property, at 7671 Edinboro Road.

State police initially charged Havican with a total of 163 felony, misdemeanor and summary counts of animal cruelty and neglect. Investigators cited the lack of food and water and the unhealthy condition of the places the animals were kept on Havican’s properties in October.

The number of charges dropped by 27, to 136, following Havican’s preliminary hearing in February before Summit District Judge Brian McGowan. He also set the bond at $150,000 unsecured.

Latouf has said Havican plans to argue that he is not guilty of animal cruelty because the charges involve farm animals.

Erie County Judge Daniel Brabender ruled on the probation issue in the case against Gregory Havican, accused of animal cruelty in the new case.

Erie County Judge Daniel Brabender ruled on the probation issue in the case against Gregory Havican, accused of animal cruelty in the new case.

If Havican was operating a working farm, the state law would exempt him from animal cruelty and other offenses related to keeping animals.

The District Attorney’s Office is contending that the farm exception does not apply to the case, and that Havican is to blame for the animals’ poor condition.

Havican is also facing legal issues in civil court. The ANNA animal shelter in Erie has sued him for $128,846 to recover what it claims is the cost of caring for the animals that state police seized from Havican’s property.

The shelter — the Association for Needy and Neglected Animals — says in its lawsuit, filed on March 10, that the amount of money represents what it has spent on 69 chickens, 56 dogs, 21 ducks, 20 pigeons, 10 goats, five sheep, four geese, three cats and two pigs. Latouf has said Havican also plans to fight the lawsuit.

Another court action: Erie shelter took in hundreds of animals seized from the farm. It is suing man charged in case

Havican lives on the farm where the animals were kept. His aunt and another woman own the property, according to the criminal complaint in the animal cruelty case.

Contact Ed Palattella at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNpalattella.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Defendant in big Summit Twp. animal cruelty case wins probation ruling

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