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Dispute resolved over Pasco commissioner's unburied cows

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office has decided not to seek charges against a county commissioner's husband for failing to properly bury his deceased cattle.

Deputies visited Commissioner Pat Mulieri's house near Gowers Corner last week after her husband, James, said several of their cows died suspiciously. He told deputies that five cows, all between three and four years old, had died within the past two months. He thought the cattle might have died after eating poisoned grass.

According to a report, a deputy reviewed a patch of grass Mr. Mulieri suspected was poisoned. The deputy said the grass mostly looked green, with only a few brown spots. He suggested the couple ask a vet to test the cattle.

Deputies visited the home again last week after a neighbor complained to the Sheriff's Office and a television news station. Agency spokesman Kevin Doll said deputies found that the dead cattle hadn't been buried. They stopped by again on Friday and found the animals had not been buried well enough.

The couple was given until Tuesday to bury the cows, or else the agency would forward misdemeanor charges to the State Attorney's Office. Doll said a deputy on Tuesday confirmed the cattle were disposed of properly.

"We work with ranchers and other people that have livestock," he said. "We want them to properly bury their dead animals so we don't have to get involved."

Commissioner Mulieri called the incident a misunderstanding. She said she and her husband have been raising cattle for more than 30 years. They currently have nearly two dozen head. "We always bury our cows," she said.

With the latest spate of dead animals, she said they could not use the field where they normally bury cattle because it was full of water. She said they tried to follow county and state regulations that require dead animals to be buried two feet deep.

"The bottom line is, we're following the ordinance and we'll continue to follow it in the future," she said.

Commissioner Mulieri said their veterinarian told them the deaths might have been caused by a parasite medication that was not working correctly.

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.