July 20, 2010
This is the case of the 375 dead birds and 460 live birds in the house. Attorney Harry Levin represented both AHS & NJSPCA. The complainant pleaded Guilty to 20 counts of cruelty for a total fine of $5000; probation for 1 year; Lifetime ban on animal ownership; mental health counseling for hoarding. Fees assessed must be paid @ $1000 per month. AHS to be paid $20000 within a week and then payment of other restitution at $500 per month over 5 years resulting in a total of approximately $50,000. If defendant defaults there will be a recall by the court and the full amount will be payable immediately. Details Below: On March 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm hours, the NJSPCA Humane Police Corporal Al Peterson received a telephone message from Associated Humane Societies ACO Sergeant Mike Fowler advising that he, Chief DJ Infield and other animal control officers were on the scene of a bird hoarding case in Belleville where they found approximately 400 living birds living in deplorable conditions and an equal amount of birds found dead, along with living and deceased cats and dogs. An elderly resident had also been removed from the residence. He advised me that he needed SPCA law enforcement assistance at the scene. Chief Infield also told me that Belleville Police were on the scene and that the female homeowner had been on site and had been taken into custody. The telephone interview of AHS’s ACOs took place while I was at the Neptune City I then contacted Major Steve Shatkin, as I had also received notification of the complaint from Corporal Mario Marino. I immediately contacted Investigator Michele Grafje and assigned her to the case requesting that she provide an immediate response. Investigator Grafje told me that she would be able to respond immediately and conduct her investigation in cooperation with Associated Humane Societies The Belleville Police and Associated Humane Societies of Newark were at the scene now removing numerous exotic birds from the house. AHS personnel continued removing numerous cages out of the house and loading them into their vans. The home owner was Ms. Ewa Matczak, age 47. She had already been transported to Belleville Police Headquarters on Washington Avenue in Belleville. Officer Ruggeiro advised the NJSPCA that Mrs. Matczak’s 97 year old father had been found inside the home and had been taken to the hospital for observation. The total count of dead birds removed from the refrigerator and freezer was 375 and 1 dead cat. The total count removed alive birds was 460, 1 live cat and 2 live dogs Investigator Michele Grafje issued summonses against Ms. Ewa Matczak charging the defendant with 4:22-17a1, a2, a3, and 4:22-26a1, a2, c On July 20, 2010 Belleville resident Ms. Ewa Matczak pleaded guilty to 20 counts of animal cruelty and agreed to pay $50,000 to the Tinton Falls Animal Shelter for the care of birds originally in her possession. She also agreed to the plea’s “lifelong ban” on having pets in New Jersey. Municipal Judge Karen Smith asked MS. Matczak what she was doing with the more than 800 birds found in her home, almost half of which were dead. “They were my pets,” Matczak said. “The dead birds, though; they didn’t die overnight. How long were some of those birds dead?” Smith asked. According to Matczak, some birds had been dead “a few years” and she was planning on having them stuffed. Answering another judge’s question, she denied conducting scientific experimentation on the animals. Matczak’s attorney, Gina Calogero, intervened, explaining that Matczak “couldn’t say no” when people asked her to take in ill or unwanted birds, and that “between working and taking care of all the animals, it got a little out of hand.” Smith said the situation was “more than a little out of hand,” and told Matczak, “You’ve used extremely poor judgment in this matter.” The resolution requires Matczak to pay a $20,000 lump-sum next week, with $500 monthly payments, without interest, until the balance is reached. Humane Society attorney Harry Levin will collect the payments for the shelter. Matczak is also subject to a $5,000 court fine, to be paid in $1,000 monthly installments, as well as one-year probation, according to the court. If she is more than five days late on a payment or found in possession of an animal, Smith said the case would be back in court within 30 days. Failure to appear would result in a bench warrant for her arrest, according to the judge.