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Gruntz found guilty of horse neglect

Was convicted on 10 of 11 counts of Second Degree Animal Neglect, a Class B Misdemeanor


California resident Robert Gruntz, 69, was found guilty by a Crook County Circuit Court jury on Wednesday on 10 of 11 counts of second-degree animal neglect.

According to Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins, each count of the Class B misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum of six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

In 2009, a search warrant executed by the Crook County Sherriff’s Office, resulted in the seizure of 14 horses. At the time, the horses were reported to be emaciated with full rib cages showing through their skin, along with untreated leg wounds.

In response, Gruntz had filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained during the search, which was granted by Circuit Court Judge George Neilson in 2010. In response, the Oregon Department of Justice agreed to handle the appeal of the ruling, and the Court of Appeals reversed Neilson’s decision to suppress.

Vitolins said that, as a result of the reversal, the Oregon District Attorney’s Association received a $300,000 anonymous grant, via the Oregon Animal Legal Defense Fund, to be used to hire special animal prosecutor, Jake Kamins, of the Benton County DA’s office.

“Kamins is available to every DA in the state,” explained Vitolins. “All he does is animal prosecutions and he agreed to take our case. I appointed him as a special district attorney and we did not have to pay him anything because of the grant.”

In 2009, property caretakers of the ranch located at 12340 S.W. Highway 126, Robert Albring, Sr. and Robert Albring Jr., were convicted for their role in the neglect case and, as part of their sentence, agreed to return and testify against Gruntz in his trial in Crook County.

Since the abuse case first surfaced, one of the horses has been euthanized and the other 13 have been adopted.

At the time of the search, Gruntz was manager of California-based Arlington Farms, responsible for the care of more than 70 thoroughbred horses, including the 14 that were stabled in Powell Butte.

A status conference was scheduled for late yesterday in advance of a yet-to-be-scheduled sentencing hearing. The results of that hearing were not available by press deadline.



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