Rockville Centre residents Faith Ross, 54, and Francesca Maselli, 23, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges in an appearance at the Nassau County Court House in Mineola on Feb. 25. The charges stemmed from their arrest on Jan. 14, when Rockville Centre police — along with Town of Hempstead animal control officers — found 26 dead and 14 neglected animals inside their filth-ridden rented home at 14 Montauk Ave.
Nassau County Judge David Ayres agreed to a plea deal in which Ross will receive six months in jail and five years probation, during which she is not permitted to own an animal. Ayres agreed to sentence Maselli to 60 days in jail and three years probation, during which time she too cannot own an animal. The pair will be sentenced on April 29.
Ross pleaded guilty to five felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals last week, while Maselli pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts including torturing and injuring animals.
As another condition of their deal, the mother-daughter pair must also repay the Town of Hempstead for the cost of caring for the pets recovered from their home.
“There can be no understating of the abuse and pain these innocent animals suffered in this house of horrors,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a press release. “This is the most egregious case of animal cruelty I have ever seen, and it’s because of defendants like these that I created the Animal Cruelty Unit.”
The sickly animals and carcasses were discovered after the Building Department received a call from a neighbor complaining about a foul odor. Soon after they received the call, inspectors contacted village police, who arrived at the property, heard barking and smelled gas coming from the house. The Fire Department, National Grid and Town of Hempstead animal control officers were subsequently called. Ross and Maselli were not home at the time, so village officials contacted their landlord and eventually got into the house, where they found the nightmarish scene.