Order Bans “Weary” Farmer From Livestock For 75 Years

NEBRASKA CITY – Unadilla farmer John Maahs was sentenced to two years in prison and banned for life from owning or possessing livestock after authorities found neglected and dead animals on his farm for the second time in seven years.

A surviving goat made its way to the edge of Highway 2 last May and a concerned motorist  discovered up to 40 dead pigs and 15 dead goats. Others were showing signs of starvation and some had resorted to cannibalism.

Judge Julie Smith said law enforcement described a terrible scene.

Smith: “I’m somewhat perplexed at why this would have happened, ever, and let alone have it happen twice.”

Prosecuting Attorney David Partsch said hundreds of pigs were found dead in large farrowing houses in 2011. Maahs served a four-year sentence in that case and paid the county $50,000 for clean-up costs.

He called the case this spring an egregious example of cruel neglect.

Partsch: “I’d note also, when law enforcement were at his farm in this case, Mr. Maahs, when he arrived at the farm, had additional live animals in a trailer that he was bringing to the farm. He has no good reason or excuses.”

Defense Attorney Tim Noerrlinger said Maahs has expressed remorse for what happened, but does not articulate well an explanation as the question of why.

Maahs had purchased food and had it on the farm. He purchased medicine, properly stored it and kept records. He just didn’t give it to the animals.

Noerrlinger: “I think there are some disconnects in terms of his ability to care for animals and some existing psychological states that cause him problems. He wants the animals, but doesn’t necessarily have the wherewithal to take care of them.”

Partsch said he told investigators that he was busy at work, became tired and did not make it out to care for the pigs and goats.

Noerrlinger said most of the animals on the farm this spring were rescued.

Judge Smith banned the 67-year-old Maahs from  livestock for 75 years.

Smith: “So, Mr. Maahs, for you that means you’re never going to be able to own or possess livestock animals again. Do you understand that? Yes.”

She said Maahs would have to serve a year in prison before he would jam out with good time provisions. After his release, he would be subject to 12 months post release supervision. He is ordered to reimburse Otoe County $21,200 for clean-up of his property.