Alleged animal abuser pleads not guilty to cruelty, firearms charge

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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.

Few words

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).

The setting

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.

Questions

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.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

16 Comments

  1. Garry F says:

    I get the feeling that this involves more than just one person. I hope the good people of that county and state get together and do the right thing. This is really sad for all of us.

  2. Rochelle says:

    Why isn’t the owner being brought up on charges? It would appear that this guy Billy Joe Gregg Jr is going to be the “fallguy” so to speak and while he needs to be raped with a hot pitch fork himself, I think the owner should be held equally if not more responsible for allowing and breeding this culture of torture at his place of business. I’m betting though that he has enough money and political status to skate by and once everything “dies” down the abuse will continue.

  3. Rochelle,
    The investigation continues and officials cannot tell us at this time whether more individuals will be charged.

  4. I would like to know more about this Mercy for Animals group…just how did they manage to find this guy who “has no address” because he moves from state to state. Sounds like a real loser and from the video, whether or not he is a normal person seems to be a reasonable question. He obviously enjoyed his abusive behavior. That is abnormal and very very sick. So, how did MFA manage to find him and get him to AGREE to the filming? Was he paid? Was he encouraged?

    As far as the farmer, most farmers are not going to hire or keep on the payroll someone who is harming their animals. With farming, the health and welfare of the animals is rather critical if you expect to be able to stay in business.

  5. Allen says:

    I agree with the response Laura gives. How does mercy for animals manage to find someone and get him to AGREE to the filming? I believe this was a staged event to bring publicity to that humane society group and try to belittle those very good natured farmers who give terrific care. Did you eat today? Well, thank a Farmer!

  6. Kelley says:

    Allen and Laura, I agree that most farmers give terrific care to the animals in their charge – they are the farmers’ livelihood after all. I have a deep respect for farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately this particular farmer not only tolerated his workers doling out this abuse but participated in it. It is documented on the film. None of these sick people agreed to be filmed; the film was done undercover. I completely support farming and humane methods of raising and using livestock. That was NOT the case here.

  7. America'sFace says:

    You want to know who is MFA? MFA is a mother, a son, a teacher, a kid, a sister, a neighbor, a student, a survivor, a friend, an Ohioan… Check out this video: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/i-am-mfa.aspx

  8. Chris Kick says:

    Thank you for the comments and concerns. They are all being considered. The investigation continues and I am following it very closely.

  9. freestate says:

    Chris, Thank you for an honest, nonjudgmental piece on Billyboy Clegg and Conklin Farms. I could not go on to this property as an undercover investigator in order to document the horrific abuse Clegg and others put these poor animals through; knowing that I had to get enough filming to present proof of the continued abuse, and that I would have to go back the next day and do it all over again. I think it takes an extraordinary person who sees the end as the greater good. By that I mean if interrupting the abuse means Billyboy and the others just smile and say “Oops, won’t do that again, didn’t know it wasn’t OK….” and then walk away and call it a day. So sorry for these animals that will end up slaughtered to be treated in such an abusive way while living.

  10. Cassie Miller says:

    Understand…Conklin Farms that caused this abuse, received over $37,000.00 in taxpayer dollars as farm subsidies. So I ask, “How do we like how our tax money is spent”? I implore each and every tax payer to complain to the Department of Agriculture-division of farm subsidies-

  11. Ohiofarmer says:

    Cassie Miller; It is usually spent on keeping the farm running. You probably haven’t looked at the market lately most farmers are just breaking even. So if you like eating food quite your complaining.

  12. Chris Kick says:

    Concerning the $37,000 in subsidies, I would add that those were paid over a period of several years to add up to that amount, and before abuse was documented or reported.

    Also, the same database shows that the top 20 farmers in Union County each received more than $700,000 for same period. So, while 37,0000 is still $37,000, it’s actually much less than other farms received.

  13. AppGal330 says:

    As the former wife of a law enforcement officer I know how undercover work goes. Many in law enforcement are forced to endure incomprehensible situations over long periods of time to ensure proper prosecution. This situation is no different. If a tape was made of one incident by anyone on the farm & reported that day it would have minimized the atrocities seen in the video.As for it being a “set up” or any other conspiracy theory excuse–WATCH the entire video–the OWNER is seen kicking a downed cow people. He not only HAD to know this behaviour was going on–he committed acts of cruelty himself!!
    I grew up in a dairy farming family and my relatives and I are OUTRAGED at this treatment!! Many in my family are also food crop farmers. It is wrong to condemn ALL farmers for the actions of these idiots. Most farmers that I have dealt with (and still do deal with) take good care of their animals & treat them well. While I realize the end of the video tries to persuade us to all go vegetarian/vegan; it is not fair to assume that all livestock/dairy farmers behave in this manner. Are there abusers? YES of course there are and MFA is obviously going to help get them stopped. Cudos to them and to the person who was strong enough to return day after day to this farm to film the happenings there. Frankly, I couldn’t have done it–watching the first few seconds of the film enraged & sickened me. I would have picked up the pitch fork and used it on the guy!!

  14. FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

    AppGal330-So it is OK for your former husband to beat and kill innocent people just to save his cover??? I didnt think law enforcement was permitted to do that. The owner has been completely cleared of ALL wrongdoing-EXPERT witnesses testified that it WAS NOT ABUSE using aggressive tactics to try to save the cow from further harm or death. You saddistically support an organization who feels it is OK for THEMSELVES to abuse animals while trying to goad someone else into doing the same. You refuse to believe what the investigation has PROVEN and stick up for the lies and deceits of a radical terrorist organization. What is TRUELY outrageous and sickening is people like you that-despite what the truth comes out to be- allow yourself to be brainwashed and completely misled by these poisonous, putrid Animal Rights groups.

  15. Tom says:

    I couldn’t lie to an employer with the purpose of causing trouble like this. I think that Billy Joe is one of their infiltrators, passed around to different organizations. His picture and the picture of the guy who held the camera should be passed around.

    Undercover investigators start out by lying and that makes them liars.

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