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Marti gets probation on cat charges

Marti home sold, will be repaired

MONROE - A home previously ordered to be demolished after more than 50 cats were kept there under unsafe and unsanitary conditions will instead be repaired by its new owner.

City Attorney Dan Bartholf announced the agreement during Monroe Common Council proceedings Tuesday. The raze or repair order given to previous owner Delores Marti ended with the sale of the property to Joanna Hartung on Dec. 6 for $48,000. Bartholf said Christopher Moore will repair the home.

Bartholf said Moore will have until October to restore the house to habitable conditions. Per the agreement, a $10,000 lien on the home will be forgiven if Moore completes repairs by that time. Bartholf assumed renovations to remove stains and odor would need to occur though the agreement did not require any specific projects. Bartholf said the smell would have to no longer be considered a public nuisance.

MONROE - Delores Marti, accused of hoarding 50 cats and dozens more deceased animals in a house along the 1100 block of 19th Street in Monroe, received six years of probation for charges of mistreating animals.

Marti, a 78-year-old woman now living in Freeport, pleaded no contest to charges of animal mistreatment and imprisonment in Green County Circuit Court on Thursday. She was sentenced to a total of 72 months of probation and fined $10,000.

Green County District Attorney Craig Nolen said the state recommended therapy as long as counselors deem it necessary.

A count of resisting and obstructing an officer was dismissed on Sept. 12.

Circuit Court Judge James Beer agreed to prohibit Marti from owning or possessing a cat for 10 years beginning immediately. The conditions prohibit Marti from owning or buying any cat carriers, contraptions or cat food.

Marti agreed to the conditions. Her attorney, Charles Wellington, said the case was a "troubling matter" because Marti's love of cats had "gone beyond the realm of reasonableness." Wellington and Beer both agreed that the loss of her savings and two homes was a deterrent against similar behavior in the future. Marti said she had been seeing a therapist. In her address to the court, she expressed how the charges have impacted her life negatively.

"What has been written in the news, and also on television does not represent me as a person," Marti said. "I have fulfilled my professional obligations for 35 years, and I feel that the news has really assassinated my character."

The cats, many of which were undomesticated, were retrieved from Marti's home in early August after complaints about odor coming from the residence. Authorities also found the bodies of more than 40 deceased cats, mostly kittens, in a freezer.

In 2009, Marti voluntarily surrendered more than 50 cats she was keeping in two Monroe homes she owned. Because she voluntarily turned the cats over, she did not face charges.

Probation and prohibition from owning cats will begin immediately.

Payments toward the $10,000 fine will begin on Jan. 23.