Case dismissed against squirrel rescuer

Maria Vaccarella squirellsThe State’s case against Maria Vaccarella was dismissed in Howell Municipal Court this morning.

Doris Lin, Esq., Vaccarella’s pro-bono defense counsel, argued that the statute that her client was charged under does not apply to rescuing abandoned baby squirrels, but rather to the possession of exotic pets and animals.  Judge James M. Newman, the Presiding Judge of Monmouth County Municipal Courts, agreed and dismissed the charges.

Vaccarella came to the aid of a squirrel that had fallen out of a tree last year and then gave birth to two infants.  Vaccarella left the babies outdoors in cage for a day and then took them in when the mother failed to return.  She named the baby squirrels George and Lola and bottle nursed them for four months after a registered wildlife rehabilitators refused to take them, she said.

Vaccarella shared photos and videos of the growing a squirrels on her facebook feed, which led to a visit from Fish and Wildlife officials who took the babies and sent her a summons that indicated a $500 fine.  During her first appearance in Freehold Township Municipal Court, the Judge told Vacarells that the fine could be $1000 and a six month jail sentence was possible.

Vaccarella rejected a plea deal with no fine and $35 in Court costs last month.

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Posted: February 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Squirrel rescuer rejects plea deal

Maria Vaccarella squirellsFreehold Township- Maria Vaccarella, the Howell woman who was threatened with a $1000 fine and six months in jail for rescuing two baby squirrels, rejected a plea deal of a $35 court costs and a suspended fine that was offered by Township Prosecutor Anthony Vecchio this afternoon.

Vaccarella and her pro-bono attorney, animal rights lawyer Doris Lin, showed up unannounced in Freehold Township Municipal Court to ask Vecchio to dismiss the summons that Fish and Wildlife officials mailed to Vaccarella after they took the squirrels she cared for after they were abandoned by their mother.  The case, which was transferred to Freehold from Howell Township because of a conflict, was originally scheduled for January 27th.

Vecchio told MoreMonmouthMusings that he thought the suspended fine and court cost would be a fair way to resolve the case that has received nationwide attention.  He said the case would be transferred back to Howell for litigation.

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Posted: January 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »