Farm’s owner, more tenants arraigned in Westport animal abuse case

Richard Medeiros leaves court following his arraignment on animal cruelty charges.

FALL RIVER, Mass (WPRI) — The owner of the Westport farm where prosecutors say more than a thousand animals lived in filthy conditions pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 21 counts of animal cruelty.

Richard Medeiros, 83, was among the second group of defendants in the case to be arraigned. Four of the farm’s tenants also pleaded not guilty in Bristol County Superior Court Wednesday.

A total of 27 people are charged in the case, which the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office calls the largest of its kind in New England history. Several of the defendants appeared in court Tuesday, and more were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday and Friday.

Medeiros did not say anything as he left the courthouse, but his attorney Karen Benson said she was confident Medeiros would be exonerated. When asked if Medeiros was involved in the day-to-day management of the 70-acre property off American Legion Highway, Benson said “probably not.”