Judge Awards Maximum Fine To Shipper

Kevin Nickerson, an agent for Donald Nickerson, owner of Nickerson Livestock, has been convicted for multiple violations of New York State laws concerning the humane treatment of livestock while in transport. Nickerson was convicted in Kirkwood, New York on April 1, and fined the maximum of $3000 -- $100 for each of 30 counts against the accused.

Some of the horses in Nickerson's care had been purchased at the New Holland Sales Stable in New Holland, Pennsylvania, three hours travel from the Pennsylvania/New York border. He was arrested by New York State troopers soon after passing into that state.

Reportedly, Nickerson's attempt at a plea bargain on the original 35 counts against him was turned down by the assistant district attorney in charge of the prosecution. Five of the counts were dismissed by Judge Benjamin Weingartner, who ultimately fined Nickerson $100 each on the remaining counts. Nickerson has 60 days in which to pay the fine.

Nickerson Livestock has been involved in past cases of inhumane treatment of livestock based upon New York laws supported by many humane societies, and the United States Trotting Association.

Nickerson Livestock is also currently involved in a case in Essex, New York, a community that also has had a vigorous history of enforcing statues on inhumane treatment of animals in transport.

Further convictions can lead to fines of $500 per count and a misdemeanor conviction. Currently, a bill in the New York Senate would raise fines from $100 to $250 for first offenses, and then $500 to $1,000 for a second offense.

A 1980 story by journalist Barney Fowler, entitled "The Torture Trail," focused on repeated violations by animal transporters carrying livestock destined for Canada, and his report led to the New York State laws under which Nickerson and others are prosecuted.

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