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Son of Whitestown judge pleads guilty to animal cruelty

By ANNA MEILER

ORISKANY, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The son of a Whitestown judge pleaded guilty in court Friday to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. Joseph Sullivan stood in court, arms crossed, and accepted a plea deal.

"Joe had a right to a trial and he decided to accept full responsibility. I'm not going to stand in the way of that," said Sullivan's defense attorney, Ricardo Mauro.

The 20-year-old was arrested in July of 2013 when police found him in the women's bathroom at a Whitestown park around 9 p.m. Sullivan had bound one of two kittens' legs with tape and there was a lighter on the floor. In court, Sullivan said he got the kitten's off Craigslist.com and stopped at the bathroom on the way to sell them to a friend. He claims he tied the kittens legs so it wouldn't get away.

"He's a good kid and from the beginning of all this he and our family wanted him to take responsibility for what he did, not for what people perceived he did, but for what he did and he did that today," said Joseph's father, Daniel Sullivan.

The case was prosecuted by the Onondoga County assistant district attorney because Daniel Sullivan is a judge in the Oneida County town of Whitestown, creating a conflict of interest. That was one contributing factor to the drawn out case. The other was because the court ordered a forensic psych evaluation of Sullivan. It found he had no malicious intent and doesn't require psychological treatment.

The judge ordered a one-year conditional discharge that states Sullivan must obey all laws, complete 50 hours of community service, stay off park property, not possess a cat for one year and pay a $200 surcharge.

"My client's satisfied with it, so I am too," said Mauro.

Animal advocates who have been following the case closely said they're not satisfied with the sentence.

"I would've liked to see him go to jail. Maybe he would've learned. You let people off and get away with things and they're going to turn right around and do it again." said Linda Glover, an animal advocate who sat in on court.

If Sullivan fails to comply with any of the conditions in the plea agreement, he could face up to one year in jail.

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