History of Lies and Faked Paperwork
Some escaped Ohio zoo animals used to prowl Ashville
Some of the tigers and lions killed in Ohio this week after they were released from a zoo lived on the Ashville Game Farm in Greenwich for several years until Ashville’s owner was forced to get rid of them three years ago.
Ashville owner Jeff Ash was ordered to remove the cats from his zoo after a tiger that was on display at the Saratoga County Fair scratched a child in July 2006.
On Oct. 1, 2008, Terry Thompson, owner of Muskingum County Animal Farm of Zanesville, Ohio, brought a trailer to Greenwich and picked up three tigers, two lions and two cougars.
Ash said he has no doubts his big cats were among those shot by police Wednesday after Thompson released 50 animals from his zoo, then killed himself. Police said 18 tigers and 17 lions were among those killed, although media reports have not mentioned any cougars being shot.
Ash said the tragedy is compounded by the fact that he had been told his cats were being kept in poor conditions after he turned them over to Thompson, and he and other volunteers had contacted Thompson to offer help creating bigger cages for the cats.
Thompson angrily turned the offer down, Ash said.
“It’s just horrible,” he said Thursday.
The animals wound up going from Washington County to Ohio in a convoluted transfer that led to Ash being accused of committing a crime for allegedly filing false paperwork about their destination.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said Ash had sought approval to transfer the cats to Thompson, but that request was turned down after the DEC determined Thompson’s zoo, then operating under the name T’s Wild Kingdom, did not have the required licenses.
“It was determined that the Ohio facility did not have the proper licenses to possess these animals, and therefore the transfer could not be approved,” DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said.
The DEC did approve the animals’ transfer to Stump Hill Farm in Massilion, Ohio.
But On Oct. 1, 2008, the DEC received a request from Ash to allow Thompson to pick the animals up from Greenwich and take them to Stump Hill Farm. The request was made as Thompson waited at Ashville with a trailer to pick them up.
“DEC agreed to the use of ‘Terry’ as transporter, provided the animals were delivered directly to the Stump Hill Farm facility,” Severino wrote in an email. “DEC did not approve the transfer of these animals to T’s Wild Kingdom.”
Ash said volunteers who worked at Ashville had visited the animals in Ohio and were appalled at the small cages in which they were kept. Ash said he offered to go out there with volunteers to help Thompson improve the animals’ care.
“He was insulted and said, ‘What do you think I am, a charity case?'” Ash recalled.
Ash was accused of a crime last year in connection with the transfer, a misdemeanor that alleged he knowingly filed false paperwork indicating the animals went to Stump Hill Farm when they instead went to Thompson’s zoo. The charge was part of a 29-count indictment against Ash, but that charge was dismissed as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to a different misdemeanor.
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said a DEC investigation of the animal transfer was continuing.
Ash said he was misled by Thompson, whom he called an “animal hoarder.”
“The deal was supposed to be with Stump Hill Farm,” he said. “He came here on her (the owner of Stump Hill Farm’s) behalf.”
Not all of Ash’s big cats went to Thompson’s zoo.
A white tiger that Ash had went to a game farm in Fulton County and was not among those that wound up in Ohio. A cougar was transferred to Cindy Bardin of Granville, who operates a zoo called “Jungle Experience.”
October 20, 2011 4:55 pm • DON LEHMAN — email@example.com
Ashville Game Farm Loses Big Cat License
Ashville Game Farm loses big cat license
By JIM KINNEY, The Saratogian
11/20/2007 Ballston Spa, NY: The owner of a Washington County zoo whose tiger scratched a 4-year-old boy at the Saratoga County Fair in 2006 is no longer permitted to own big cats, the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office said.
Jeffrey Ash, owner of Ashville Game Farm, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Saratoga County Court to giving the Saratoga County Fair faked insurance documents and also to not leaving enough space between the tiger and the public at the fair.
As a result, Ash, 54, of Greenwich, is no longer permitted to own lions, tigers or leopards, Murphy said. He’ll be in court in Ballston Spa Jan. 19 for sentencing and will then have six months to remove all eight big cats from his property. He will also serve three years of probation.
“I just want to make sure they are going to the right home,” Ash said by phone Tuesday. “We’ve raised them from babies.”
The menagerie includes two African lions, tigers, mountain lions and leopard. Ash said he’ll keep the business going by displaying other exotic animals that don’t pose as much of a risk, like camels.
District Attorney James A. Murphy III said the state Department of Conservation will also investigate Ash with an eye toward possibly banning Ash from owning and displaying bears as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates zoos. Ashville Game Farm has not had any enforcement action taken against it previously, said USDA spokeswoman Jessica Danielle Milteer. Inspection reports for the facility were only available through the federal Freedom of Information Law. The Saratogian has filed a FOIA request.
Riley Willard, now 5, was sitting on a bench at the fair in 2006 getting his picture taken with a baby kangaroo when a Bengal tiger reached through its cage and swiped at his forehead.
The boy needed 14 stitches.
Riley’s family sued the fair, prompting officials there to discover that Ash provided them with a faked insurance certificate in order to bring the animals on the grounds.
Ash pleaded Tuesday to second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a misdemeanor in satisfaction of that part of the case, Murphy said.
The Saratoga County Fair no longer accepts faxed insurance documents from vendors at the fair, General Manager Dick Rowland said Tuesday. A fax from an insurance company is OK initially, but must be backed up by a certified copy from the insurance company.
“What we do is we spot check,” Rowland said. “We call the insurance company and make sure the coverage is in place.”
The fair’s insurance company settled with the Willard family for $32,500, according to papers on file at the Saratoga County Clerk’s Office.
“Something can always go wrong,” Rowland said, adding that the tiger wasn’t a problem before the incident. “The rest of the week it lay in the cage and slept,” he said.
“You wouldn’t think situations like that would arise.”
The fair wasn’t the first time Ash had been in the news. In 2005 another tiger named Tehan escaped form the Ash’s zoo on a rural road east of Schuylerville. The cat was recovered with out incident, but area schools kept children inside from recess.
“I can’t believe he’s still in business,” Rowland said.
Jeff Ash’s Game Farm to Lose Big Cats
Greenwich wildlife zoo owner pleads guilty to charge related to 2006 tiger slashing at fair
By CHRISTEN GOWAN, Staff writer
First published: Wednesday, November 21, 2007
BALLSTON SPA — The Ashville Game Farm is expected to lose its large exotic animals — such as lions, tigers and leopards — by the middle of next year and may also be banned from owning bears, according to Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy.
The game farm’s owner, Jeffrey Ash of Greenwich, has pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from a 2006 incident in which a 4-year-old was scratched by one of his tigers. Part of the plea deal requires Ash to sell the large animals within six months of his sentencing, scheduled for January.
According to the game farm’s Web site, the facility owns 14 such animals. The game farm also houses other wildlife, such as monkeys and goats.
In 2006, a Ballston Spa boy was scratched by Calcutta, Ash’s 400-pound royal white Bengal tiger, at the Saratoga County Fair. The animal reached out of the cage and swiped the child on the forehead while he posed for a picture with a baby kangaroo. The boy sustained minor injuries.
Fair officials discovered Ash’s insurance documents had been forged.
Ash, 54, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a class A misdemeanor, Murphy said. He also pleaded guilty to violating his environmental conservation permit, Murphy said. Ash is expected to get three years probation.
Game farm owner convicted
Updated: 11/20/2007 10:54 PM
By: Web Staff
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — The owner of the Ashville Game Farm has been convicted of charges stemming from an incident in July 2006, when a young boy was injured by a tiger.
Jeffrey Ash violated conditions of his permit at the farm for failing to build a sufficient barrier between the animals and the public.
The accident happened when a boy was getting his picture taken near the tiger cage at the Saratoga County Fair.
That’s when a white tiger reached through the cage and scratched the boy on the forehead. He was taken to the hospital for treatment but has made a full recovery.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Owner of game farm convicted of violations The owner of the Ashville Game Farm has been convicted of charges stemming from an incident in July 2006, when a young boy was injured by a tiger.
Greenwich game farm to lose big animals
By CHRISTEN GOWAN, Staff writer
Last updated: 2:59 p.m., Tuesday, November 20, 2007
BALLSTON SPA — The owner of the Ashville Game Farm in Greenwich has pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from a 2006 incident in which a 4-year-old was scratched by one of his tigers.
The owner also has been banned from owning large exotic animals like lions, tigers and leopards, meaning he is required to sell such animals within six months of sentencing.
Jeffrey Ash of Greenwich, 54, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a class A misdemeanor, and to an environmental conservation law violation for violating his permit to own exotic animals, according to Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy.
Ash was charged with the misdemeanor after Saratoga County Fair officials discovered that his insurance documents to display animals at the fair had been forged. Murphy said that Ash also didn’t properly cage his animals while at the fair.
In 2006, the Ballston Spa boy was scratched by Calcutta, Ash’s 400-pound royal white Bengal tiger. The animal reached out of the cage and swiped the kid on the forehead while he posed for a picture with a baby kangaroo. The kid sustained minor injuries.
Ash, who is scheduled to be sentenced in January, is expected to get three years probation.
Owner of a Tiger That Scratched a Boy Must Give it Up
Last Update: 11/20 6:25 pm
The owner of a white tiger cub that scratched and injured a boy at the Saratoga county fair last year will no longer be allow to own animals like that.
54-year-old Jeffrey Ash of Greenwich, owner of the Ashville game farm, has been convicted of possession of a forged instrument for giving fair officials bogus insurance information back in 2006.
Then 4-year-old Riley Willard needed 14 stitches after the tiger cub scratched him while the boy sat on a nearby bench.
Ash must remove any lions, tigers or similar animals from his zoo and will get 3 years probation as part of a guilty plea.
Ash will be sentenced in January
Man pleads guilty in 2006 county fair tiger scratch case
By NICK REISMAN
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2007 1:28 PM EST
A Greenwich man will lose the lions, tigers and leopards in his menagerie after a Saratoga County court ruled Monday that one of his large cats was liable in the injury of a six-year-old boy last year.
Jeffrey Ash, 54, pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor charges that included having improper insurance at the time of the boy’s injury and failing to keep his animals safely penned in cages.
The case stems from an incident in 2006 when a 6-year-old boy was injured when one of Ash’s tigers scratched his forehead while the boy posed for a picture at Ash’s booth at the Saratoga County Fair.
“While we cannot charge or prosecute Mr. Ash for the assault committed by the tiger, we can hold him responsible under the permitting process for his failure to make the public safe,” said Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy.
The court ruled that Ash must turn his large cats over to a licensed third party. Ash, who owns the Ashville Game Farm, may also have to forfeit several of his bears, Murphy said. Ash will also be on probation for three years.
Owner of tiger that clawed NY boy faces forgery charge
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The owner of the Ashville Game Farm was in court last week to answer a felony forgery charge in connection with providing a forged insurance certificate to the Saratoga County Fair last summer, officials said.
Jeffrey W. Ash operates the game farm in Greenwich and is the owner of a white Bengal tiger that clawed 4-year-old Riley Willard at the county fair in July. The Willard family, of Ballston Spa, is seeking to recover damages from Ash and the fair because of the incident.
After receiving a notice of claim from the family, the fair’s insurance carrier reviewed a proof-of-insurance document sent to the fair by Ash, said Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III. The insurance company alleged it was fake, he said.
Ash, 53, was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument after an investigation by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, Murphy said. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in Ballston Spa Village Court Monday.
An investigation into whether Ash provided the fair with other false information is continuing, Murphy said. The case could later go before a grand jury, he said.
Ash’s lawyer, Kurt Mausert, said he would not comment on the alleged forged instrument.
Mausert said what happened last July was an unforeseen accident. Ash has experience setting up similar exhibits, Mausert said, and the attorney is unaware of any similar accidents involving Ash’s animals.
Mausert said he has since taken a tour of Ash’s game farm and noted that he takes good care of the animals.
“I was impressed with the cleanliness and how nice the facility was,” Mausert said. “All of the animals are healthy and well cared for. He’s taken extra cautionary measures to raise the height of the cages, double-layer the fences and double-lock the cage doors.”
Accounts of the July 18 fair incident differ between the Willards and representatives for the game farm.
Jennifer Willard, Riley’s mother, said her son was in awe of the exotic animals on display when they came across the Ashville Game Farm exhibit. Willard agreed to have her son sit on a bench and have his picture taken with a baby kangaroo. Willard sat with her son until the kangaroo was in place and the photographer was ready.
Calcutta, the white Bengal tiger, was in a cage behind the bench.
“I stood up to get out of the picture, then I glanced away for 10 seconds and the tiger’s claw was in his head,” Willard said.
Riley was pulled back toward the tiger cage, Willard said. A game farm employee needed to pull the tiger’s paw from Riley’s head, she said.
The boy suffered a gash about an inch long on his forehead that required 14 stitches, she said. A scar and bump remain on Riley’s head, she added.
Workers for the game farm said at the time that the tiger was curious after smelling the kangaroo within its reach and tried to play with it.
They said the incident was not an attack and Calcutta is one of the “sweetest animals in the world.”
The Willard’s lawyer, Dan Dagostino, of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti, said the family is looking to recoup medical expenses and other damages. Doctors are still trying to determine the emotional impact this has had on the family, he said.
Ash and the fair are responsible for not providing a safe environment for Riley, Dagostino said.
“We had no control over the placement of the cage or the bench in the booth,” Rowland said. “We did not create the situation or put the child in that situation. What we did was rent him the land.”
Rowland said Ash and his animals will not be welcomed back, but the fair will still allow exotic animals to be on display.
Ash was charged with a misdemeanor in connection with failing to exercise due care to safeguard the public from a wild animal attack that caused bodily harm under the state agriculture and markets law in July.
He was then cited in August by the state Department of Environmental Conservation with several permit violations.
The misdemeanor charge will be part of the felony case, Murphy said.
In 2005, a full-grown female tiger escaped from Ash’s game farm and zoo. It remained at large for more than three hours and was captured without incident.
Inside Edition Exposes Jeff Ash Auctioning Off Zoo Animals
ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 9/28/2006
Anyone who wants a pet these days can simply go to the local animal shelter and adopt one of the thousands of pets who are in need of a home. However, for some, exotic animals are the only way to go when it comes to pets. But do they make good pets?
INSIDE EDITION traveled to rural Mt. Hope, Ohio, about sixty miles south of Cleveland, for a very unusual auction. Hundreds of people from across the country crammed into a giant barn to bid on exotic animals. A curpachian monkey went for $5,000 dollars, a kangaroo for $1000 and a lemur for $1200. Also available were zebras, alligators, monkeys, camels and lions.
Signs posted in the barn say “Danger,” suggesting the animals are not as cute and cuddly as they may seem.
INSIDE EDITION took hidden cameras to the auction accompanied by Tim Harrison, a police officer in another Ohio county who is also an animal expert, and is often called upon when exotic animals escape.
Harrison says events like these are typical of exotic animal auctions across the country, and that “Exotic animals need to be left in the wild.”
The auction is legal in Ohio, but Harrison says some of the buyers are likely to take the animals back to states and counties where they are forbidden.
The animals look cute and harmless when they are purchased, but in a year or so, many will be full-grown and extremely difficult to handle, not to mention dangerous.
In March 2000, while visiting relatives, a boy almost got his arm ripped off by a pet tiger. In 1999 a 10-year-old was killed by a pet tiger in her father’s ex-wife’s backyard.
So where do these exotic animals come from? One man selling some animals at the Ohio auction is Jeff Ash. INSIDE EDITION was able to trace him back to a small zoo that he owns in upstate New York, loaded with exotic animals.
Asked if there was any danger to Mr. Ash’s breeding and selling of these exotic animals, Ash’s lawyer said, “There’s a danger to anything. There’s a danger to owning a German Shepard.”
Ash says he never sells an exotic animal to someone who isn’t qualified to handle them, but Harrison says that’s hard to do when you’re selling them to the highest bidder.
NY game farm cited for violations
Thursday, September 14, 2006 6:15 AM EDT
GREENWICH — A recent investigation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation found the Ashville Game Farm and Exotic Zoo had more animals than its permits allowed.
The Department of Environmental Conservation inspected the game farm and zoo last month after a white tiger owned by the zoo scratched a 4-year-old Milton boy at the Saratoga County Fair on July 18. The boy suffered a gash about an inch long and needed 14 stitches to close the wound.
The game farm’s owner, Jeffrey W. Ash, of Lick Springs Road, was charged with a misdemeanor and was cited for a violation after the incident, according to the DEC.
The department later launched its investigation and discovered the game farm was not in compliance with some of its permits to keep animals, according to information obtained by The Post-Star through the state’s Freedom of Information Law. Department officials ticketed Ash for 15 license or permit violations on Aug. 7 and 9.
Similar game farms exist in Washington County and have previously been cited for exotic animal permit violations. In New York, owners of large, wild mammals must obtain a license from the federal government in addition to state permits. The owner must be trained to monitor the animals or find a veterinarian for the job, and he or she must prove the animals are being kept for breeding, exhibition or research.
Owners must also agree to adhere to standards of the Animal Welfare Act and must allow periodic inspections of their facilities.
Municipalities may have their own regulations for keeping exotic animals as pets, but most rural areas do not.
Ash said the department’s investigation and the incident at the fair are not related. He also said some of the tickets issued by the department were “bogus.”
He said during a telephone interview that the department issued multiple tickets for one violation. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Ash has two dangerous wildlife licenses allowing him to possess one African lion; a dangerous wildlife license to possess four American black bears and two bobcats; and an endangered or threatened species license to have 20 American alligators, seven tigers, two cotton-top tamarin, three leopards, two lynx, three mountain lions, two ringtail lemurs, one spotted hyena and one arctic wolf. The farm has several other animals that do not require permits.
The game farm had a tiger, a mountain lion and a leopard that were not covered by permits or licenses, according to the DEC. Ash also obtained a “replacement tiger” without a license amendment, the department said.
The matters have yet to be heard in court, Ash said.
“I can’t get into it without speaking to my lawyer,” Ash said.
After the fair incident, Environmental Conservation Police charged Ash with failing to exercise due care in safeguarding the public from attack by a wild animal that caused bodily harm, a misdemeanor under the state agriculture and markets law, according to a police report. The charge carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $500 fine. Ash was also ticketed for violating a condition of a DEC permit that states he must maintain the tiger in a cage that is not in contact with humans. The violation is punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $250.
Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III said the misdemeanor charge is still in court.
On Nov. 16, a full-grown female tiger escaped from Ash’s game farm and zoo. It remained at large for more than three hours before it was found about a mile away from the zoo. It was captured without incident.
On Dec. 12, Ash pleaded guilty in Greenwich Town Court to failing to prevent an escape, a violation, and paid a $125 fine. Ash had also been cited for failing to report the escape of an animal, but that violation was dismissed in court.
In 2004, a bear cub from the game farm bit a person on the face while it was being shown at the AAA office in Queensbury, according to a DEC report. No charges were reported from that incident. In 2004, a bear cub from the game farm bit a person on the face while it was being shown at the AAA office in Queensbury, according to a DEC report. No charges were reported from that incident.
Little Boy Injured by Tiger Undergoes Rabies Shots
July 27, 2006 03:03 AM EDT
Attorneys for the 4-year-old boy injured by a tiger at the Saratoga County Fair say he must undergo rabies shots.
The shots began Wednesday for young Riley Willard, who received 14 stitches on his forehead after a Bengal tiger reached through the bars of its cage and swiped his forehead.
Even though the tiger had its rabies vaccination, attorney Daniel Dagostino says the boy will take the shots as a precaution.
“So the only alternative they’ve left Riley with is this treatment which involves five shots,” says Dagostino, with Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP.
NEWS10 spoke with the Health Department in Schenectady County, who say the shots are probably not necessary. They say the animal would have probably been dead by now had it been infected with rabies and acting erratically.
As for the petting zoo owner, the New York State Department of Conservation fined Jeff Ash of the Ashville Game Farm 250 dollars.
November 19, 2005 Greenwich, NY: Jeff Ash, owner of the Ashville Game Farm was cited by the DEC in 2004 after a wolf escaped from the zoo and was never found. Ash pleaded guilty to a charge that he didn’t provide proper housing for the animal. After Tahan, a 300-pound golden tabby tiger, broke out of her cage the DEC issued Ash a ticket for the same violation. Tahan was sedated with a tranquilizer dart about two miles away from the game farm after she broke through the roof of her cage. PETA sent a letter to the USDA calling for the agency to investigate Ash referring to USDA reports from 2002 and 2003, in which PETA called Ash a “chronic violator of the Animal Welfare Act” because of accusations he failed to maintain clean cages, allowed water troughs to freeze over and failed to keep accurate records.
Breaking News: Loose tiger found, tranquilized
Updated: 11/17/2005 6:59:57 AM
GREENWICH — A tiger that escaped from a game farm in Greenwich on Wednesday morning was found about three and a half hours later and tranquilized, authorities said.
The 7 year old 350- to 400-pound female tiger, named Tahan, found about a mile from the outdoor zoo, was shot twice with tranquilizer darts.
She was trained to do tricks, including walking on her hind legs.
The gold and white tabby Bengal tiger was described as being docile by its owner Jeff Ash, who operates the Ashville Game Farm & Exotic Zoo on Lick Spring Road in Greenwich. Ash, though, said the tiger had the potential to be dangerous if cornered.
The loose tiger prompted Argyle Central School, several miles away, to cancel outdoor recess Wednesday.
The tiger escaped about 10:30 a.m. from the game farm and was tranquilized just before 2 p.m.