|5/31/2019 9:35:00 AM|
Gust pleads no contest in family pet shooting, receives sentence
|For his conduct on November 26, 2017, defendant Bernard Gust, 68, received his sentence on Friday May 24 at the Iowa County Courthouse. |
Gust was charged with shooting Sadie, a three year old black lab owned by Jennifer and Andrew Heller of Brigham Township. He was also charged with providing false information to officers. He originally plead not guilty to these charges.
Eighteen months later, Gust pleaded no contest to amended charges of "intentionally mistreat animals," a class A misdemeanor, and a class A misdemeanor charge of obstructing of an officer. These charges carry fines of $10,000 and imprisonment of not more than nine months or both.
Assistant District Attorney Matt Allen informed Judge Margaret Koehler that a deferred prosecution agreement has been reached. The agreement includes having no contact with the Heller family, paying a restitution to the Heller Family of $2089.42, on or before April 24 2020, for vet expenses pertaining to Sadie's injuries and recovery, 25 hours of community service, and notify the district attorney's office of any address changes.
If Gust satisfies the terms of the agreement his record will be cleared within one year.
For the Heller family, the sentence means so much more.
At Friday's proceedings, Jennifer Heller spoke on behalf of her family and beloved pet Sadie.
"In one year per your plea, you will go on like nothing ever happened," Heller said to Gust during her victim statement.
Heller informed Gust that there will forever be scars for her young children, who had to see Sadie collapse in their garage that day.
"I just want you to understand your actions caused a lot of grief for our family over the last 18 months," Heller said. "It's not something that will just go away."
Attorney Allen said that while Sadie miraculously survived her wounds, the recovery came at a high price to the Heller family. He stated that the agreement would compensate for some of the costs, as the financial obligations are higher than the amount of restitution. Gust will make monthly payments of $200 until payment is met.
Allen also stated that the Heller family inquired about the possibility of revoking Gust's hunting privileges. Although there is no mandatory statute under Wisconsin law, the hunting privilege could come into play if Gust was placed under probation and the agreement was revoked. The terms of the probation would be under the probation agent's advisement or if the judge specifically ordered so.
Gust's attorney Jon Spansail said that Gust is 68 years old, a high school graduate, a father a grandfather, and has no prior criminal history.
"He realizes that things definitely could have been handled better here," Spansail said.
When Judge Koehler asked if Gust had anything to say he responded with, "I have nothing to say."
Judge Koehler listed the order of importance pertaining to sentencing. She said that the first objective offers punishment to Gust for causing grief to the Heller family. The second object was rehabilitation to the defendant, for not only shooting the dog but also providing information to law enforcement. The sentence also provides protection to the public. Before accepting the deferred prosecution agreement, she stated that being under the district attorney's watchful eye and being in a deferred prosecution agreement is harder than probation.
"Because this is under the sole discretion of the district attorney," Koehler said to Gust. "If you violate any term of this, he can revoke the deferred prosecution agreement."
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