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John David Matthews (left) and Latitia Matthews in court for a previous proceeding. (Walter Geiger/File)

Puppy mill owners back in court July 7

A couple convicted last year on multiple counts stemming from a raid on a puppy mill they operated at their home on Johnstonville Road will be back in court here July 7. Judge Tommy Wilson will review the terms of probation for John David Matthews and Latitia Matthews.

Each entered guilty pleas to all 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 in May 2021.

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.

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. At the time of their guilty pleas, defense counsel reported the pair had paid the back taxes.

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