Friday, November 17, 2017
News Roundup

Town 'N Country woman gets five years in prison for animal cruelty

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — A Town 'N Country woman accused of hoarding and neglecting more than two dozen animals will serve five years in prison, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Cynthia Cuervo had pleaded guilty to 25 charges, including three counts of felony cruelty to animals and 20 misdemeanor charges of unlawful confinement without food or water. She also pleaded to two felony counts of resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law officer.

Cuervo, 47, was arrested in February after investigators discovered 22 dogs — some of them suffering eye ulcers, untreated sores and broken bones — confined without food or water, along with a dead bird. A spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Animal Services called her a "hoarder of the worst kind."

Cuervo wasn't even allowed to own animals at the time. She was on probation for a 2008 neglect case after authorities seized 16 dogs and a crate of bones from an apartment where she lived.

"I've never seen anything like it," Circuit Judge Gregory Holder said Wednesday.

Holder gave Cuervo the maximum 25-year prison sentence, but suspended 20 years of it. When she gets out of prison, she'll be on probation for 20 years and will again be restricted from owning animals.

"No animals of any kind. None, zip, nada," Holder said.

Cuervo has 30 days to appeal.

Prison sentences for animal cruelty convictions aren't typical, but prosecutors and county animal services investigators argued that Cuervo had shown she cannot stop herself. She was not only on probation but had been forbidden, twice, by a civil court from owning animals.

"The impact this person has had on the animals in our community is overwhelming," animal control officer Sgt. Pam Perry testified. "This has got to stop."

In the past six years, Perry said, animal investigators seized more than 80 animals from Cuervo.

Hillsborough County deputies also charged her with two counts of child neglect in February after finding her two young daughters in the home, which reeked of urine and had dried feces piled so high in the bathroom that the door wouldn't open.

Prosecutors did not pursue those charges, however, because the two girls, now ages 12 and 13, were healthy and other parts of the home, such as their bedrooms, were in good condition. The girls remain in state custody, prosecutor Susan Lopez said.

Cuervo's attorney, Samie Ata, asked the judge for relief, saying Cuervo has mental health problems.

"It's obvious we're dealing with a sick person here," he said. "Prison is not the solution."

Cuervo did not speak during the hearing. Her father, Eddie Cuervo, told Holder that her actions resulted from the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her earlier relationship.

"This is an end product of an abusive man, mentally and physically," he said.

Ata said a psychological exam that found Cuervo competent to stand trial also determined that she suffered from depression and got overwhelmed by the stress of caring for the animals. It was, he said, "a learned helplessness rather than lack of genuine care."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

Comments
Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

MELBOURNE — With 1 yard separating Plant from an incredible come-from-behind victory, or a devastating defeat, it all came down to a matter of trust.And for Panthers coach Robert Weiner, there was no one he would put more faith in to get that 1 yard ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

SEFFNER — Hillsborough conquered one nemesis with last week’s win over Class 6A defending state finalist Lake Gibson, the team that knocked the Terriers out of the playoffs in the first round a year ago.But there was an even bigger stumbling block to...
Updated: 25 minutes ago

Region football: Ocala Vanguard 35, Mitchell 31

NEW PORT RICHEY — The start wasn’t quite befitting of a playoff game between undefeated teams, but the end of Friday’s war between Ocala Vanguard and Mitchell certainly was.Like last year’s Class 6A regional semifinal, the Mustangs held a three-point...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., does not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

ZEPHYRHILLS — For Zephyrhills, Friday night’s Class 5A region semifinal against Green Cove Springs Clay was doomed by 12 bad minutes. The Bulldogs led by four points at halftime but allowed 28 unanswered points in the third quarter and were not able ...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood came into Friday’s playoff game knowing its defense had to help control field position against Jesuit. The Spartans (9-1) left Friday’s game with a ticket to Immokalee for a region final — and six Tigers (6-5) turnovers en r...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Tampa Bay Tech 42, Palmetto 26

TAMPA — Another Friday night, another offensive explosion.Tampa Bay Tech’s offense continued its torrid pace and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. accounted for five total touchdowns as the Titans rolled past Palmetto 42-26 in a Class 7A, Region 3 semifi...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Cambridge Christian 50, Indian Rocks Christian 14

TAMPA — The Cambridge Christian offense was clicking, and quarterback Jaylin Jackson couldn’t seem to be stopped. Still, as the second quarter clock dwindled, Indian Rocks Christian was hanging around.So with just more than a minute left in the half,...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Naples 24, Largo 0

NAPLES — In a game between two teams that had never met with a lot on the line, the Naples defense came up with one of its best efforts against Largo on Friday night.The Golden Eagles limited the Packers to 117 yards of offense in a 24-0 triumph in t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Nov. 17, midday:15 614 9359e_SRit97440Fri., Nov. 17, evening:48 386 1619e_SRit48264Fantasy 5Fri., Nov. 17...
Updated: 1 hour ago