Woman sentenced in animal-hoarding case

The woman responsible for the largest animal-hoarding incident in St. Joseph County Animal Control’s history was sentenced last week.

Appearing Friday before circuit court judge Paul Stutesman, Diane Pitone was ordered to pay restitution of nearly $5,000 to the Centreville-based animal-control agency.

Taking into consideration a number of factors, Stutesman did not order jail time or probation.

Appearing via Zoom alongside attorney Stephen Rabaut, the 49-year-old Pitone said she never meant to bring harm to any of the more than 150 cats retrieved from a Fishers Lake residence.

Pitone had previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cruelty to animals. The offense was punishable by a maximum of four years in prison.

Her guilty plea led to dismissal of charges in a related case in Three Rivers, where authorities discovered another 50-plus cats at a house where her boyfriend lived. The Park Township situation unfolded in early August, while the Three Rivers discovery was made a week later.

Stutesman ordered restitution of $4,965. In addition, Pitone is subject to a few hundred dollars in court-related fines.

Between the two incidents, more than 200 cats were secured. Some had to be euthanized out of mercy due to health and neurological issues.

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