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Animal cruelty charges dismissed in immense Westport case

AG says Westport detective’s ‘credibility’ a problem; drops charges against 25

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 9/24/20

Claiming credibility issues involving the Westport Police Department’s lead detective in the investigation, the state has dismissed charges against 25 defendants accused in …

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Animal cruelty charges dismissed in immense Westport case

AG says Westport detective’s ‘credibility’ a problem; drops charges against 25

Posted

WESTPORT — Claiming credibility issues involving the Westport Police Department’s lead detective in the investigation, the state has dismissed charges against 25 defendants accused in a Westport cruelty case involving nearly 1,400 animals.

In a statement released this week, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said, “Unfortunately, due to the circumstances surrounding the conduct and credibility of the key witness — the investigating Westport police detective—in connection with another matter, we have determined we must dismiss the charges and terminate the prosecution of these cases. 

“We reached this conclusion reluctantly,” the AG’s office continued,” based on the understanding that the facts concerning the detective, whose testimony would be needed at trial to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt, gravely compromised our ability to successfully prosecute these cases. Our office remains committed to prosecuting cases of animal cruelty and abuse.”

Attorney General Healey added, “This investigation by the Attorney General’s Office was the largest animal cruelty investigation in New England’s history, involving over 1,000 animals and resulting in 25 defendants being charged with more than 150 counts of animal cruelty. It has been our priority from the beginning of this case to ensure that justice is served for the Westport community and the animals that were mistreated.”

In July, 2016, Westport Police, soon joined by the state Attorney General, ASPCA and other organizations, began investigating (for the second time) animal cruelty on an immense scale within a 70-plus wooded property hidden from site north of American Legion Highway. 

The property was owned by Richard Medeiros of Westport who has since died. Investigators said he rented out lots on the property to others, most of whom used their lots to keep animals — some of them raised as feast meat for area churches and organizations. “It’s a good money maker (for the church),” one lot renter told investigators. “He said last year he raised 12 animals.” Photos and investigation records indicate that police discovered cows, horses, pigs, birds, dogs and other species in deplorable condition — many dead and dying. 

All 21 charges against Mr. Medeiros were dropped last April, shortly after his death at age 83.

Detective’s credibility challenged

Detective Jeff Majewski was Westport’s lead detective in the case, but the investigation involved other detectives on the force as well as personnel from other agencies. 

Together they collected voluminous files filled with gruesome details of what they had seen, all documented by photos. 

ASPCA, using staff and equipment from around the nation, wound up setting up a temporary holding site at a nearby farm. There, animals were given medical care, shelter and food. Many were later shipped off to animal sanctuaries or adopted out on condition that they be allowed to live out their lives safe from slaughter or mistreatment. Several remain at nearby locations including Tiverton’s West Place Animal Sanctuary which took in several sheep and birds.

Last March, Detective Majewski, who had also served as public information officer for the Westport Police Department, was placed on paid administrative leave and later retired after he was accused in an internal probe of having “consensual relationships” with two women, one the alleged victim in a rape case he was investigating, according to publshed reports. That case had led to the arrest of a Dartmouth Water Department employee.

A March court filing by the attorney for the accused claimed that Detective Jeffrey Majewski’s relationship with the woman in the rape case “is clearly exculpatory and may very well be indicative of a biased, defective investigation that infects the entire process due to the partiality and lack of objectivity of the lead investigator in this matter.” 

Asked by Shorelines for reply after his retirement announcement, Detective Majewski wrote, “I was told by an ex-girlfriend that she wasn’t going to be happy until I lost my job and ended up on the other side of the news.” 

Horrific scenes

Police reports from 2016 revealed terrible discoveries within the property which was located back in the woods down a long gravel driveway, within a locked main gate, and behind makeshift fences and scrap wood walls.

 — “Dr Marshall and others observed a small dead pig being eaten and torn apart by other larger pigs in the same pen … There were rats running underneath … One barrel had approximately 40 lbs of raw meat with pieces of trash inside it.”

 — Immediately upon entering the gate to Lot 3 there was a decomposing goat … covered in maggots.

 — “In “the food bin there was a decomposing cat which had mostly decayed. The food bin was loaded with worms. There were other goats in this area that are clearly sick.”

   Lot 3 had an enormous amount of goats that were huddled in an overcrowded small contains area near buildings and the entrance gate… Machado told me that in the past two weeks 14 of his goats has (sic) died suddenly … shaking and convulsing then died minutes later. He told me that he had been visited by the Town of Westport Inspector. He said the inspector asked him how many animals he had and the inspector marked it down on a paper.”

 — He “explained that any time animals died Mr. Medeiros would make the rounds with his backhoe in between all of the lots and collect the dead animals in the bucket of his backhoe and then bury them in another spot on the property.”

 — “(Raposa) said (the Board of Health agent) had never been inside his lot and he’d been at his property for approximately nine years …”

 — The veterinarian stated one Ewe was determined to be in early pregnancy toxemia. This ewe had delivered two dead lambs on August 1. “This sheep had diarrhea, endometriosis, chlamydiosis and pneumonia. She stated ‘despite treatment by licensed MA veterinarians over the next two days, the sheep did not survive the trip to Tufts University.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.