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Owner of SA Farm Charged with Animal Cruelty

Santo Anza, owner of SA Farm in Northborough, has been indicted for animal cruelty and multiple environmental violations.

Submitted by the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley

A Northborough man has been indicted in connection with multiple environmental violations and animal cruelty for the alleged operation of an illegal dumping site, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Friday, Dec. 16.

Santo Anza, Jr., 51, has been indicted on the charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (three counts), violating the Massachusetts Solid Waste Act (10 counts), and Animal Cruelty (three counts). 

“We allege that the defendant operated an illegal dump site that was used to dispose of rotten food, garbage, and dead animals, among other materials,” said AG Coakley. “These actions put the public’s health at risk and caused unnecessary harm to the animals living on the property in intolerable conditions.”

“The rules governing solid waste management and trash disposal are in place to protect public health and the environment,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “The actions that the defendant is accused of resulted in odor and noise nuisance conditions in the surrounding neighborhood, and demonstrates the impact that ignoring these rules can have on a community.”

"Maintaining consumer and public confidence in agriculture is paramount and our collective efforts to protect the safety and welfare of animals as well as the integrity of our Commonwealth’s farming community are critical to that end," said Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott J. Soares. “I applaud the efforts of DAR staff, our sister agency and the Attorney General’s office for their good work and for their role in protecting our Commonwealth’s agricultural identity."

According to authorities, Anza operated an illegal dump for solid waste on his Whitney Street property (SA Farm) in Northborough. Authorities allege that the dump site polluted the air and created a public nuisance by emitting rotten odors that annoyed and sickened neighbors.

In Oct. 2010, Anza applied for and was granted a composting registration from the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR). In March, 2011, Anza applied for a renewal of the composting registration from DAR.

A site visit in connection with the application for renewal showed little agricultural activity. Authorities allege that Anza used the site not as a farm, but instead as a dump for spoiled food, non-food waste, manure, yard waste, cardboard, and other materials. The materials were allegedly dumped in close proximity to animals and livestock that roamed freely on the property.  Anza was granted temporary registration provided that he brought the site into compliance.

Authorities allege that after his temporary certificate expired in April 2011, Anza continued to accept tons of solid waste without a valid site assignment.  According to authorities, during the summer months of June, July, and August 2011, the farm emitted strong and repulsive odors into a nearby residential neighborhood on repeated occasions, causing some neighbors to become physically ill.

Authorities also allege that Anza kept various animals on the Northborough property, including cows, pigs, and poultry, that comingled and foraged for food in a pit of garbage that included non-food items, including severed animal heads, manure, cardboard and tires. Authorities allege that Anza failed to provide proper food to the animals, failed to maintain a sanitary environment for them, and instead subjected them to unnecessary suffering.

After an extensive investigation, MassDEP referred this matter to the Attorney General’s Office in September 2011. On Oct. 14, the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Division obtained a preliminary injunction against Anza prohibiting him from accepting solid waste and compostable material on his property and providing relief to neighbors who have had to live with the odors and noise emanating from the property.  

Friday's criminal charges are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell, and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.  The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.

A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Anza on Dec. 14. Anza is expected to be arraigned at a later date.  

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer of AG Coakley’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force is prosecuting this case with assistance from Lynne Welsh and Michael Penny from MassDEP and William Blanchard, Linda Harrod and Michael Cahill of DAR.

Robert Norgard December 17, 2011 at 06:08 PM
This issue has been such a long drawn out situation and very time consumming for the many people who have been involved in bringing this buisness to a close. We all understand that with all have the right to operate our buisness endeavors BUT this individual has really gone far beyond what the law states. Hopefully the next step will be one that leads to shuitting down this buisness. It is then next up to our various boards to review our regulations to further protect our enviroment and yet allow a person to want to move to Northboro. We need growth in order for the town to grow but in a way that we, the town, all gain.
AG December 18, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Mr Norgard: Then with this man's record there should have been some trepidation by the boards and governance in giving him license to do dumping. The committees did not execute enough of oversight on this land which was formerly an industrial site converted to a farm site. How did that happen? Who forced the zoning change? Healthy growth needs prudent oversight and long range planning.

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