The criminal court trial of a local dog breeder accused of selling diseased animals was postponed indefinitely today while dozens of residents waited for the jury selection process.
Court officers would not comment on why the trial against Dake Fu was put off on the day it was set to begin - but a last-minute subpoena of Charleston Town Supervisor Shayne Walters appeared likely to be the cause.
Walters is the son of Charleston Town Justice Jean Walters who was to preside over the trial in which Fu faces two counts of selling sick or diseased animals, a misdemeanor violation of the state Agriculture and Markets Law.
Fu, 28, of 121 Toback Road, Charleston, was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in 2006 after he was accused of housing numerous dogs in a garage and shed. Witnesses then said the dogs had little or no food and water and said many of the dogs were stacked on top of one another in crates and were covered with excrement.
Authorities seized 15 dogs at the time.
Fu was acquitted after a 2007 trial that took place in the neighboring town of Glen. That trial was moved after Charleston Justice Jean Walters recused herself because her son Shayne Walters was a material witness in that trial.
Assistant District Attorney John Clo on Wednesday said he could not reveal why the trial was put off, but he said he was prepared for trial.
Fu's defense attorney, Cheryl Parsons Reul of Sharon Springs, declined to comment at the court this morning, and Town Justice Jean Walters said she could not comment on why the trial was postponed.
Shayne Walters later today said he just received a subpoena through the town's attorney on Tuesday night. He said he could not recall having any involvement in the current case against Fu.
As of last week, Fu was expected to face three separate trials based on complaints filed by people who purchased dogs from him, but Clo said Fu is now facing two counts of violating Section 357 of the state Agriculture and Markets Law.
The charges were lodged by the Montgomery County Sheriff's department which alleged people who bought dogs from Fu paid "extensive fees" to rehabilitate the animals. One alleged victim claimed they bought a Yorkshire Terrier from Fu and it had coccidia, according to the Sheriff's department.
One count was withdrawn, Clo said. That count was lodged after a complaint by Albany County resident John Aretakis, the suspended attorney who purchased a "puggle," a mixed breed combination of a pug and a beagle, from Fu.
Aretakis alleges he paid for a female and got a male dog.
In a letter to Aretakis, Clo said he contacted Aretakis' veterinarian and learned his dog was "well within the "normal" range of healthy upon his initial examination."
Justice Walters said she did not know when the trial will get underway. It was unclear Wednesday whether her son's subpoena to testify at the trial will lead to the trial being moved to another town.