MARYSVILLE, Ohio — The man charged with cruelty to animals at a dairy farm in Plain City pleaded not guilty June 10 to mishandling a firearm inside a vehicle, a fourth-degree felony.
Billy Joe Gregg Jr., who allegedly committed abuse to dairy cattle on an undercover video taken by an animal rights organization at Conklin Dairy Farms, entered a not guilty plea with his attorney, Kevin Talebi, prior to appearing by video in Union County Common Pleas Court.
Gregg also was scheduled to enter a plea the same day in Marysville Municipal Court, to 12 charges of animal cruelty. His attorney entered a plea of not guilty to those charges, as well, prior to court appearance.
The judge issued a $15,000 bond for the felony charge, the amount requested by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Terry Hord, and the standard amount for a fourth-degree felony in Union County.
After hearing of the multiple animal cruelty charges also made against Gregg, in late May, the judge required that, if bond is posted, Gregg’s travel be restricted to within county lines, that he make weekly reports to the county sheriff’s department, and honor a curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Gregg said he did not have an address to give. It has been reported he’s lived in multiple states over the past few years. He offered little comment during the proceedings, other than to honor the judge when called upon.
Portion of Gregg’s scheduled arraignment. (Editor’s Note: A test to see if this works).
Outside the courtroom, less than a half-dozen protesters assembled in front of the courthouse, holding posters to demonstrate their frustration with the abuse, and the farm they are linking it to. A protest had been announced on an Internet Facebook page, with dozens of interested persons announcing their interest to attend.
Two Mercy For Animals directors — the organization that filmed the video — watched the case from within the court. They were Daniel Hauff, director of investigations, and Corey Roscoe, MFA’s Ohio campaign director.
Hauff held a short news conference with reporters outside the court, where he commented on the status of the case and MFA’s involvement.
“We’re very pleased with law enforcement for acting swiftly and decisively and protecting the public and animals from this abuse,” he told reporters.
Because of the brutality depicted in the video, some critics have questioned why the undercover investigators did not step in sooner, to end the apparent abuse, report it, or get legal action.
The filming took place over a four-week period. Local law enforcement arrested Gregg the day the news was reported to them.
“What we needed to determine was not only that the cruelty was ongoing and outstanding, but we needed to verify for law enforcement who knew about it, who was involved in it, how much the owner (Gary Conklin) knew, if he was involved, (and) that’s the reason the investigation went on, so that we could provide everything,” Hauff said.
Hauff said the MFA investigator did not break any laws in his documentation, and needed the time so he could get the necessary footage.
“We follow all laws,” he said. “The only reason that the charges were so high is because we did do due-diligence for these animals, and got all of the documentation to create a clear case of cruelty to animals.”
The felony charge will come before the court for a status conference July 12 at 1:45 p.m.