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Puppy mill couple sentenced

A Lamar County couple charged with running a puppy mill at their Johnstonville Road home entered guilty pleas Wednesday morning in Monroe County superior court. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* John David Matthews and Latitia Adele Matthews each pleaded guilty to all the thirty counts filed against them which were six counts aggravated cruelty to animals, 23 counts cruelty to animals and one count of improper disposal of a dead animal. Judge Tommy Wilson sentenced each to 10 years probation, $2500 fine and 250 hours of community service under the first offender act. Each is subject to a search and specimen clause and neither can have or control any animal during the probationary period. Prosecutor Jessica Rock asked the fines be earmarked for the construction of the new Lamar County animal shelter though it was unclear if that was allowed under the various applicable statutes. The Matthews were arrested March 13, 2019 when state agriculture department officials and Lamar investigators raided their property, Sweet Basil Kennels, finding dogs living in filthy, excrement-filled pens without food or water. Eighteen live pigs and nine dead pigs were also located. Hungry dogs roaming the property were seen eating the dead pigs during the raid. A second raid on Sweet Basil Kennels June 5, 2019 by agents of the Georgia Department of Revenue resulted in arrests of both defendants on an additional count of felony tax evasion. The defense told Judge Wilson Wednesday the Matthews have paid their back taxes and the state Department of Revenue has dropped the tax evasion charges.

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