Man who tried to return the bodies of his adopted cats get 2 years in jail

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A sad, creepy and disturbing case revolving around the deaths of a couple’s 5 pet cats that we still remember from 2013 was finally resolved this Tuesday, when a Long beach, California man was sentenced to 2 years in jail.

The most peculiar aspect of the case, and the one that raised red flags, is that the young man returned the dead cats to the shelter and animal hospital from which he’d adopted them.

Ullery, in court
Ullery, in court

Long Beach police arrested Steven Ullery on January 23, 2014.  Staff at spcaLA (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/Los Angeles) became suspicious in August, 2013 when Ullery and his wife tried to return two dead cats they’d adopted a month earlier from an spcaLA shelter and wanted a refund of the adoption fees. Ullery claimed the cats were “defective” when asking for the refund. Those suspicions led to the investigation and felony animal cruelty charges against Ullery, who pleaded guilty on December 10, 2014 after the jury in an October, 2014 trial failed to reach a verdict. With the majority of jurors from the October trial voting to convict, Ullery’s lawyer advised him to plead guilty rather than face another trial.

Ullery’s plea deal got him a 2 year sentence rather than a possible 5 years allowable under the law.

The wife was not charged.

Ullery’s defense attorney Louis Pilato said: “We did have a trial. The jury voted almost unanimously against my client,” noting the 11-1 result. “Given the circumstances and exposure he faced … we had a deal to avoid an excessive sentence.”

Ullery pleaded guilty to four felony counts of animal cruelty, with the understanding that he could change his plea to a single count as long as he returned to the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in January for sentencing.

Ullery is forbidden to own, care for or live with a pet for 10 years.

“Two years is a great sentence,” spcaLA president Madeline Bernstein said. “Typically across the county, we’re battling with people taking these cases seriously. It’s a significant crime, a violent crime and can be a precursor of violence toward people.”

Ullery gets to serve his sentence in county jail, where inmates are often released early due to overcrowding.

SpcaLA recapped the story in a news release issued today:

Los Angeles CA — A 24-year-old man convicted of killing his cat was sentenced today to jail, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Last month, Steven Ullery of Long Beach pleaded guilty to a felony count of cruelty to an animal in case NA098033.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Tomson T. Ong sentenced the defendant today to two years in state prison, which will be served in county jail. The defendant was remanded into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing.

As a result of the animal cruelty conviction, Ullery cannot own, possess, reside with, or care for any animal for 10 years.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Guthrie, who prosecuted the case, said at the time of the crime Ullery was living with his wife, who owned several cats. Between March and August 2013, five of the cats died, the prosecutor said.

Two of the deceased cats were adopted from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) in July 2013. When those cats died about a month later, Ullery and his wife brought the bodies back to the spcaLA requesting a refund.

Following that incident, spcaLA began an investigation and learned that in March and May 2013, Ullery and his wife presented three additional dead cats to the Uptown Animal Hospital in Long Beach. One of these cats died from blunt force trauma to the face. Another was choked to death, according to the prosecutor.

“spcaLA is dedicated to being a voice for those who cannot advocate on their own and I commend the effort of the LA County’s District Attorney’s office who prosecuted this case,” said Madeline Bernstein, spcaLA President.

Long Beach Police arrested Ullery on Jan. 23 in connection with the animal deaths. The defendant was later released on $60,000 bail.

The case was investigated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.



1 thought on “Man who tried to return the bodies of his adopted cats get 2 years in jail”

  1. why was the wife not charged? She couldn’t have been that blind to what was happening. I agree with another commenter… what will these people do to their children

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