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T.E.A.R.S. Crisis Update II



In the criminal case of The State of Alabama vs Terra Cotromano, for animal cruelty charges, a bench-trial date of Tuesday, June 1, 2010 has been set.

The trial will be held in the Bessemer courtroom of Judge Fancher; fifth floor, room 504, and will begin at 9 AM.

As this bench-trial could be lengthy, Judge Fancher has no other items on his docket on June 1.


At today’s hearing, Judge Fancher went to great lengths to explain that letters of support for either party in the trial would be ineffective. He went on to say that he never sees the letters, they are collected by his assistants, and destroyed.

He will base his decision solely on the evidence presented at trial.

While there was some speculation that Ms. Cotoromano would be offered a plea-bargain, no confirmation of such was announced.



The motion to continue was approved and the new court date is set.

Motion to Continue Approved 032410


It has just been learned, from Judge Helen Shores-Lee’s clerk, that the hearing scheduled for tomorrow (03/26/10) has been ‘continued.’

This decision by Judge Lee is in response to a motion by the plaintiff’s attorneys; and allows more time for information gathering and depositions.

The new date for the hearing is not known at this time. The new date will be posted here as soon as it is known.

Reportedly, Terra Cotromano did not have her deposition on March 22, 2010.


Motion to Compel 031610

Motion to Compel 031610 Exhibit A

Exhibit A provides fascinating reading in the form of specific Interrogatories and specific Request For Admissions.

Motion to Continue [delay] the March 26, 2010 Hearing(031610)


Terra Cotromano was bonded-out of the Birmingham Jail on Friday, March 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm.

Reportedly, a bench trial is scheduled for April 13, 2010.


TEARS founder arrested and charged with animal cruelty

By Carol Robinson — The Birmingham News

March 11, 2010, 11:43AM
Terra Cotromano-0311.jpgTerra Cotromano, shown in a 2005 photo, has been charged with animal cruelty. (The Birmingham News / Jeff Roberts)The founder of TEARS was arrested this morning on multiple counts of animal cruelty, authorities said.

Terra Cotromano, 61, was being taken to the Jefferson County Jail, said Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian.

Cotromano founder of The Emergency Animal Rescue Service, is charged with 20 counts of cruelty to a dog or cat. Her bond is set at $1,000 for each charge.

She was arrested at the TEARS animal rescue site in Mulga.

Sheriff’s officials in January seized 22 dogs and six cats after a month-long animal cruelty investigation.

Prior to the seizure of the animals, members of the TEARS board of directors fired Cotromano as executive director and filed a civil suit alleging she mistreated animals and mishandled funds.

Cotromano has previously denied the allegations and said the board members were replaced through a membership vote.

Her attorney, Lawden Yates, said today’s arrest came as a surprise.

“Obviously Ms. Cotromano is innocent of all these charges. We certainly know she’s not done anything wrong, and anybody can make any sort of wild allegations,” Yates said. “We look forward to being in court and the opportunity to be heard.”


Compass and Regions Subpoenas 031110

Terra Cotromano Notice of Deposition 032210

Animal rescue founder arrested for animal cruelty

Posted: // Mar 11, 2010 5:50 PM CST Thursday, March 11, 2010 6:50 PM EST Updated: // Mar 11, 2010 9:55 PM CST Thursday, March 11, 2010 10:55 PM EST

Terra  Cotromano (photo source Jefferson County Sheriff's  Department) Terra Cotromano (photo source Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – The founder of the animal rescue service “TEARS” has been charged with animal cruelty.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, in a statement Thursday to FOX6 News, said Terra Cotromano was arrested Thursday morning in Mulga.  Investigators said she is charged with 20 counts of cruelty to a dog or cat.

The District Attorney looked at reports from a veterinarian and investigators before filing the charges.

Cotromano served as executive director of The Emergency Animal Rescue Service before she was fired by the board of directors in December.  At the time, the board cited a list of reasons for terminating Cotromano, including unexplained financial irregularities, improper bookkeeping and failure to ensure humane conditions and care of animals on TEARS property.

Beverly Lepore, chairman of the TEARS board, released a statement Thursday evening expressing “mixed emotions” at the announcement of Cotromano’s arrest.

“Terra was the founder of TEARS and controlled everything,” Lepore said in the statement. “We trusted her. But our first priority has to be the animals we rescue.”

Lepore said the last several months have been one of the worst periods in TEARS’ history.

“When we realized the problems and especially that the animals were not being cared for properly, we tried everything we could to work with Terra,” Lepore said. “Animals were dying. Time was of the essence and we could not get her to respond. This situation has been very hard on all of us, especially the many volunteers who have devoted so many hours to TEARS.”

Cotromano talked to FOX6 News in January, a few days after being fired, and said the accusations were not true.  She also claimed she was illegally fired as the executive director of the non-profit organization.

“All of this is desperate attempt on behalf of these two board members who just simply have a desire for power and knew that they were going to be voted out,” said Cotromano.

The TEARS board, in its statement Thursday, released the following detailed history of reasons why it fired Cotromano:

First, board members discovered from a local CPA that more than $65,000 was unaccounted for in fiscal year 2008 alone. Then allegations about the poor care of rescued animals and mismanaged adoptions by former Executive Director, Terra Cotromano, began to surface as volunteers and donors filed complaints with police, federal and state agencies, local banks, and the Board of Directors.

In November 2009, the board chair received notice from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations warning that audit notices were being ignored and that a summer hearing had been missed. In December a Regions’ banker froze all accounts and the board attempted to conduct an audit of both the animal’s health and the finances, all of which were allegedly blocked by Cotromano leading to her losing the job she’d held for several years.

On New Year’s Eve (2009) the board received a temporary restraining order allowing them to access records and to determine the conditions of animals.  After assessing every animal at TEARS, sheriff’s deputies removed 22 dogs and 6 cats as part of an animal cruelty investigation. Veterinarians Barbara Monoghan, Cindy Williams, Mark Pelham, and Libby Todd of Liberty and Kelly Animal Hospitals provided the health assessments and medical recommendations to Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies on site at TEARS.

Not far from the New Year’s Day crisis, a former TEARS’ board member and volunteer, Donna Sophronia-Sims, watched the scandal unfold with a sense of déjà vu. Sims had filed a police report in 2008 detailing neglect and possible abuse to animals at TEARS. She had complained along with a handful of other former TEARS’ volunteers and board members at a community meeting not long before the report was filed. The group claimed Cotromano’s decision-making style as well as the lack of transparency of how money was spent were two of several problems leading to a myriad of safety issues at TEARS, but their complaints got them nowhere.

“Each person at the meeting saw a different aspect of alleged mismanagement at TEARS — sick cats being housed without treatment and in inhumane conditions, shy animals being grouped with dangerous animals, no documentation of animals or their treatment or the organization’s finances, adoptions denied for no reason — but everyone at the meeting all shared one concern — the culture of intimidation at TEARS created by Cotromano. We all knew if you say something and have an opinion, you’re gone,” said Sims. “You could sense that from the first time you went to TEARS. I got off the board immediately because I knew the place had problems.”

Animal cruelty and abuse complaints were filed with police in 2009 by volunteers David Young and Danyelle Jackson.

By January 20th, 2010 the board had removed the remaining animals from TEARS’ property including 115 dogs and 61 cats all of which received medical tests and treatments. Of the animals removed by the board, every cat suffered from serious upper respiratory infections. All but one of the cats responded well to treatment and are well today. One cat could not be saved. Many of the dogs had acute cases of adult heartworms and 68 dogs had to be treated for intestinal parasites.

The former TEARS’ Director had made numerous public requests for emergency food in December. “We found out from the vets why so much food was needed at TEARS.  Most of the dogs were infested with acute parasites. The parasites inside their bodies were getting all the food, not the dogs.” said Lee Anne Bennett, Vice President of the Board. “Most of the dogs have recovered but one continues to have a hard time getting over an infection. Some people want to see pictures of the animal’s injuries, but many of these animals were suffering and dying from things you could not see. Most of the animals began responding to treatment immediately. They did not have to die and they did not have to be euthanized. Now that they have gotten treatment, they are no longer suffering.” said Bennett.

“We are cooperating fully with the Sheriff and the District Attorney in providing documentation and access to records. We believe that the truth will come out and that justice for these animals will be served. The sheriffs have made it clear to us that they take animal cruelty in our community very seriously. The support we have received from the public has been tremendous. We have 17 dogs and 13 cats still looking for forever homes and ask the community to consider one of these beautiful animals as a new family member.” said Bennett.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.


Two documents were filed today by Pete Short, attorney for Terra Cotromano :

(TEARS) Motion to Dismiss 022510

(TEARS) Motion to Intervene and Motion for Declaratory Judgement 022510


TEARS Hearing 032610


Plaintiffs’ Attorney Subpoenas Records From Compass and Regions Bank

Compass and Regions Subpoenas 031110

Terra Cotromano to be Deposed 03-22-10

Terra Cotromano Notice of Deposition 032210



Leave a Comment
  1. puppy love / Apr 14 2010 7:28 PM

    Any update on Pete Short’s condition? We are all still praying for him. I hope he recovers soon.

  2. puppy love / Apr 7 2010 10:16 PM

    The news about Pete Short is so sad. I pray for his family, and I pray that he receives a full and speedy recovery. Thank you for the information, and please keep us posted.

  3. Allison Black Cornelius / Apr 6 2010 2:00 PM

    As many people now know Pete Short, one of the attorneys representing Terra Cotromano, was involved in a tragic accident this weekend while returning from the beach. His wife did not survive and Pete is in the neuro intensive care unit of UAB.

    We learned of this horrible accident yesterday from John Saxon.

    It is my understanding that Mr. Short had surgery today to remove pressure on his brain and to resolve some issues with his abdomen and that he is in stable condition.

    Mr. Saxon and Mr. Allen have requested prayers for Mr. Short’s family. We especially pray for Pete’s daughter who I believe was driving behind Pete and his wife as they were returning. Pray that Mr. Short will receive a full recovery and restoration to complete health and that his family will find peace and comfort as they grieve the loss of a beloved wife and mother.

    Thank you.

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