MINEOLA, N.Y. –Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Hempstead woman pleaded guilty yesterday to an animal abuse charge and is expected to be sentenced to six months in jail and be barred from owning an animal for the next ten years.
Tamara Copeland, 57, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty before District Court Judge Norman St. George to one count of Abandonment of Animals – AML 355 (an unclassified misdemeanor) and is due back for sentencing on July 24.
“Nino was left to die on a Hempstead sidewalk by the defendant, but thanks to assistance from the public, compassionate and skilled veterinarians, and the diligence of our Animal Crimes Unit he got a second chance at life and the defendant was held accountable,” DA Singas said. “Crimes against defenseless animals are heartbreaking, and we take these cases very seriously because we know that those who abuse or neglect animals often harm people too.”
DA Singas said that at approximately 9 a.m. on October 13, 2015, an employee of a veterinary clinic at 28 Main Street in Hempstead found a poodle-mix dog with open wounds and bloody bandages laying on a small bed right outside the entryway. The clinic contacted Town of Hempstead Animal Control, which responded and took the dog to a shelter where it was examined and treated. The case was immediately referred to the NCDA by animal control.
The NCDA secured multiple surveillance videos from that morning, including one video of two women walking on Main Street, one pushing a cart. The woman pushing the cart, Copeland, briefly leaves the frame and returns without the cart and holding what appears to be a wrapped package. The defendant drops the package in front of the animal clinic and then hastily walks away and out of the screen.
The video was distributed to the media and Copeland was identified through a tip and arrested by NCDA investigators less than 24 hours after the video’s release.
The dog had an implanted identification chip and was owned by a Uniondale woman and went missing from her yard more than three years ago. The owner did not match the description of the people depicted in the video and was never the subject of an investigation. The dog was given to the owner as a birthday present by her daughter in April 2000.
When found, Niño was suffering from broken ribs, bacterial infections, skin lesions, trauma and other injuries of unknown origin. After he received stabilizing medical care, Niño was transferred to a private veterinary facility.
Niño recuperated and has since passed away.
In April 2015, then-Acting DA Singas made a first-of-its-kind commitment to fully fund the care and rehabilitation of victims of animal cruelty using criminal asset forfeiture funds. Dozens of animals, including Niño, have been beneficiaries of this pledge. The pledge relieves any taxpayer burden for the care of abused animals.
District Attorney Law Assistant Carissa Danesi of DA Singas’ District Court Bureau is prosecuting the case. Copeland is represented by the Legal Aid Society.