Council member pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Council member pleads guilty to...

EL CENTRO, Calif. -

This is Raider. For the moment, the mustang-breed horse still belongs to El Centro Council Member Jason Jackson.

Authorities told KSWT in an interview on Friday that Raider nearly died last year due to neglect.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Trapnell said, “When they first found the horse, the horse was so thin, and hadn’t been fed in so long that they feared if they moved the horse it would die.”

Jackson pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges on Thursday in El Centro Superior Court.

“The judge assured that – I guess there’s a code 17-B that’s going to be enacted – which is going to throw out the felony and reduce it to a misdemeanor. I’ll be sentenced as a misdemeanor,” Jackson said.

He said pleading guilty was hard for him because he still believes he’s innocent.

“Take the plea on the misdemeanor, knowing that there’s nothing at risk as far as my job, my company, my seat on the city council, and all the other things potentially I had to lose,” Jackson said.

He explained he had many reasons to finally end this case.

“Two hundred fifty employees, two-hundred-fifty families. They all depend on my company to provide their ability to survive off wages that pay them,” Jackson said.

The D.A. Office agrees the charges may be reduced.

“He will be sentenced in august. And the judge did indicate there is a likelihood he will reduce it to a misdemeanor at sentencing,” Trapnell said.

But Jackson may still lose something dear to him in the end – custody of Raider.

“After the sentencing, the horse will be removed from his custody,” Trapnell said.

Sentencing is set for August 17 at El Centro Superior Court.


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