PLATTSBURGH — Michael Staley was sentenced to probation and fines Thursday morning in Plattsburgh City Court for his role in the Northern Puppies crimes.
The sentencing of his wife, Tammy Staley, in City Court today will mark the end of a case that inspired widespread outrage across the North Country.
In November 2013, Mr. Staley pleaded guilty to five counts of animal abandonment, a misdemeanor, for faking a burglary at his wife’s Plattsburgh pet shop, Northern Puppies, taking the 24 puppies in the store and leaving animals in remote locations around Clinton County.
‘REASONABLE AND FAIR’
Wearing a gray pullover fleece and black slacks, he stood before Judge Mark Rogers and beside his attorney, Allan Cruikshank.
Rogers gave Mr. Staley what he said was a “reasonable and fair” sentence of three years of probation.
As part of the sentence, Mr. Staley is required to pay $2,782.65 in restitution and a $500 fee, Rogers said.
Mr. Staley faces two years in jail should he violate the terms of his probation sentence.
“Even though I didn’t get the jail (time) that I asked for, the threat of two consecutive years in County Jail is still hanging over the defendant’s head and will remain there for three years,” Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Jason Marx told the Press-Republican Thursday afternoon.
Marx commended the Plattsburgh City Police Department for their “excellent police work,” which he says gave Mr. Staley no other choice than to plead guilty.
CAN KEEP PETS
The Staleys own two rottweilers and six chinchillas, Marx pointed out in court.
“There is no reason for them to have pets. They are not responsible caretakers,” Marx told the judge. “I want to be crystal clear on this, judge. No breeding.”
“There’s no indication that he’s mistreated his own animals,” Cruikshank said in response.
While Rogers will permit Mr. Staley to keep the pets he already owns, he is not permitted to breed them or take on anymore animals or livestock.
And, at Marx’s request, the judge ordered that the two rottweilers be spayed or neutered within 30 days.
“He concocted an elaborate plan,” Marx said of Mr. Staley.
To make matters worse, Mr. Staley “paints himself a martyr” and shows no remorse for his actions, the ADA said.
Mr. Staley denied what he did when initially interviewed by police and admitted to his actions only after police obtained more evidence, he said.
When Cruikshank was given the opportunity to address Rogers, he admitted that his client “was put in a difficult position and acted poorly.”
To Mr. Staley’s credit, Cruikshank said, he did help assist Plattsburgh City Police in trying to locate the animals.
“He did not harm the dogs; he merely left them unattended.”
OUT OF BUSINESS
Cruikshank told the judge his client is the sole breadwinner in his family, as his wife has been unemployed since Northern Puppies went out of business.
They were going through a rough patch financially when Mr. Staley committed the crime, he said.
Mr. Staley had already spent two days in the Clinton County Jail when his father bailed him out, and Cruikshank said he did not believe additional time “is a critical element in this case.”
‘NO CRIMINAL HISTORY’
Rogers told the attorneys that it was remarkable that the case had generated so much attention, “including (your) presentations today,” he said, referring to the attorney’s statements.
“We only get a small window of opportunity to express our reasoning,” Marx said later.
In court, the judge said Mr. Staley put himself in the position he is in, as he is an adult capable of making his own decisions.
Rogers noted that while the prosecution was asking for a harsher sentence, defendants with no criminal history are not sentenced as harshly as the DA’s Office wanted for Mr. Staley.
Mr. Staley delayed his exit from the courthouse for several minutes following his sentence, and Cruikshank walked him to his vehicle.
When asked for comment, Mr. Staley shook his head and Cruikshank said his client “would rather not” say anything.
Mrs. Staley pleaded guilty to five charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, after an unannounced inspection of her store in July 2013 found one dead kitten and several other animals in poor health and living in unsatisfactory conditions.
Mrs. Staley is scheduled to be sentenced on five animal-cruelty charges in Plattsburgh City Court at 8:30 a.m. today.
Email Felicia Krieg:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg