Tammy Christine Hanson appeared in the Baxter County District Court this afternoon at 1:00 PM to be sentenced by District Judge Van Gearhart on her convictions for twenty (20) misdemeanor counts of Cruelty to Animals. As was previously reported, Tammy Hanson was convicted of those charges following trial in early 2006, only to flee the jurisdiction of the court prior to her sentencing. Tammy Hanson was finally located in July, 2009 living in the State of Vermont under a false name, at which time she was arrested. Following her protracted efforts to avoid being extradited to Arkansas, Tammy Hanson was finally returned to Baxter County on September 25th. She has been held in the Baxter County Detention Center awaiting sentencing since then, as well as being held on a Failure to Appear charge for which she has yet to be brought to trial.
Tammy Hanson was represented today in court by her attorney, John Russo. The State of Arkansas was represented by the Prosecuting Attorney, Ron Kincade. Judge Gearhart heard testimony from several witnesses relating to the sentencing of Hanson, including testimony on the condition of the animals that authorities found at the EDNAH compound, as well as extensive testimony as to the amount of restitution that is owed to the Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society was out considerable expenses for their efforts involving in the care and maintenance of all animals found at Hanson's EDNAH compound in Gamaliel, Arkansas following its seizure by the Sheriff's Office in late 2005 during the execution of a search warrant. The State Director of Arkansas for the U. S. Humane Society testified that in excess of $100,000 was spent by that organization for the care and maintenance of the animals, as well as their subsequent placement, over a period of several weeks following Hanson's arrest. Tammy Hanson also testified in her own behalf during the sentencing hearing.
Following testimony of witnesses and the examination of the evidence, Judge Gearhart pronounced sentence. On each of the twenty (20) counts of Cruelty to Animals, Tammy Hanson was ordered to pay a fine of $500.00 and court costs on each charge. Judge Gearhart, saying he considered the conditions of the animals and the EDNAH compound to be appalling, stated he was ordering Hanson to serve the maximum sentence of confinement in the County Jail, which under Arkansas law is one (1) year, but that he felt the sentence was insufficient and should be longer. Hanson will be given credit for the forty-one (41) days she has already been held in custody. In addition to the jail sentence, fines, and court costs, Tammy Hanson was ordered to pay restitution to the Humane Society of the United States in the amount of $5,000, which is the maximum amount of restitution that the District Court can order under Arkansas Law. Hanson will serve the remainder of her sentence in the Baxter County Detention Center, after which she will be placed on supervised probation to comply with the remaining terms of her sentence. After her release from custody, Judge Gearhart issued orders preventing Hanson from owning, possessing, or being in contact with any animal.
The issue of a possible appeal to the Circuit Court of Baxter County was addressed. Judge Gearhart, finding that Hanson is a flight risk, set an appeal bond for Tammy Hanson at $5,000 cash only on each of the twenty (20) counts, thereby requiring her to post an aggregate $100,000 cash bond in order to appeal her convictions and sentencing to the higher court. Should Hanson perfect an appeal to the Circuit Court, all further orders concerning her bond and continued custody would be at the discretion of a Circuit Judge.
In addition to the twenty counts on which she was convicted and sentenced, Tammy Hanson continues to be held in custody awaiting trial on seven (7) additional misdemeanor charges, including the Failure to Appear in Court charge. Judge Gearhart set bond at an additional $5,000 cash on each of these seven charges, thereby requiring her to post an additional aggregate $35,000 cash bond on those pre-trial charges.
Tammy Hanson's husband, William Hanson, continues to be held in custody in the State of Missouri on a Baxter County warrant for Failure to Appear in court, and he is continuing to fight extradition to Arkansas. The Baxter County Sheriff's Office and Prosecuting Attorney's Office are taking all steps to ensure the eventual return of William Hanson to Baxter County.
/s/ John F. Montgomery
Baxter County Sheriff