Animal abuser back in custody after violating probation |

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Animal abuser back in custody after violating probation

DOWNIEVILLE – A Camptonville man is back in custody after he failed to meet his probation terms in a felony animal cruelty case that attracted a great deal of local attention.

Justin Phillip Lombardo-Barton, 19, had been sentenced in October to five years probation and no additional time in jail, after he hit several cattle and ran over a cattle dog during the annual Reader Ranch cattle drive.

Lombardo-Barton was driving past the annual cattle drive on June 19 – when the ranch’s cattle are driven from Pike to the high country – and was almost through the herd when he whipped the steering wheel to the right and gunned it, hitting several cattle. He also drove his Jeep toward several horseback riders and then ran over Maggie, a cattle dog belonging to ranch owner John reader.

The Jeep nearly severed Maggie’s leg and caused severe internal injuries that required more than four hours in surgery.

Lombardo-Barton had claimed during an arrest interview that he didn’t mean to hit the cows and that he drove around the horseback riders to escape, and that he didn’t know he had hit the dog until he read about it in the newspaper.

Sierra County Superior Court Judge John Kennelly had sentenced Lombardo-Barton to 122 days in county jail, with full credit for time served and five years supervised probation. Kennelly chose not to impose community service as a condition of probation, saying Lombardo-Barton would be better served spending that time finding employment. He was also directed to undergo counseling.

But according to Sierra County District Attorney Larry Allen, Lombardo-Barton “didn’t do any of that stuff.”

“He did not keep contact with probation,” Allen said. “We completely lost track of where he was. We didn’t know where he was living; he was supposed to be at his father’s house, but that lasted about three days, apparently.”

Kennelly gave Lombardo-Barton a “break,” Allen said, in order to allow him to find work to pay restitution.

“He didn’t do anything he was supposed to,” he said.

A restitution hearing and a hearing to review Lombardo-Barton’s employment status that was set for Jan. 11 had been vacated, but the teen showed up, Allen said.

Lombardo-Barton admitted violating probation and was taken into custody, Allen said, adding that he currently is in custody on $100,000 bail and is set for sentencing on the violation on Feb. 10.

The young man – who was called an animal-lover in court – allegedly “dumped” his pregnant Queensland-heeler mix at his father’s house; the 4-week-old puppies have now been rescued by Sammie’s Friends animal shelter.

“He dumped the dogs on his dad – the mother and eight puppies,” said Sammie’s Friends founder Cheryl Wicks. “The dad is living in a trailer, and he already has a dog – he was going nuts.”

Lombardo-Barton’s father called the shelter on Jan. 15, asking for help, Wicks said.

Seven of the puppies – the father is a chocolate Lab – already are in foster care and the eighth should have a new foster home soon, Wicks said.

“They shouldn’t be weaned (that young), but they are,” she said, adding that she hopes to get the mother spayed and adopted out as well.

For more information on adopting, call the shelter at 471-5041.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail or call (530) 477-4229.