NEW PORT RICHEY — The husband of a Pasco County commissioner was fined twice last week for failing to properly dispose of a cow’s carcass, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
James Mulieri, husband of County Commissioner Pat Mulieri, was cited twice for breaking the county’s ordinance for disposing of dead animals, according to the sheriff’s office. The fine totals $776.
The body has since been burned, according to the sheriff’s office. The remains were still smoldering Monday when deputies from the sheriff’s office Environmental Crimes Unit, also known as its Agriculture Unit, went to the property.
Deputies first responded to a neighbor’s complaint about the smell of a dead cow on Feb. 3.
The neighbor accused James Mulieri of moving the cow’s body from one part of the Mulieri property, a 15-acre parcel of land in Spring Hill, just north of Gowers Corner, according to county tax records, to another portion near a neighbor’s home. Deputies went to the neighbor’s backyard where they saw and could smell the dead animal. Deputies also noticed what appeared to be tractor tire tracks, indicating the cow had been dumped in that area, the sheriff’s office said.
When authorities went to Mulieri’s home, James Mulieri asked, “Are you here to find out who’s killing my cows,” according to an incident report.
James Mulieri began shouting at the deputies when he was asked why he had not properly disposed of the body.
One deputy said the cow needed to be buried by the following day.
The conversation ended when Mulieri slammed the door in the face of the deputies, the report said.
Pasco County’s ordinance on disposing of dead domestic animals mirrors that of the state statute, which reads, in part: “Any owner, custodian, or person in charge of domestic animals, upon the death of such animals due to disease, shall dispose of the carcasses of such animals by burning or burying at least 2 feet below the surface of the ground.”
Another part of the law states the animal cannot be dumped on public roadways or public property and cannot be left exposed for other animals to eat.
Pat Mulieri, known for her advocacy of animals during her tenure with the commission, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
A deputy returned to the area the following day, Feb. 4, about 5 p.m. and nothing had been done with the cow’s body, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Doll said.
“We told him please bury the cow, trying to work with him,” Doll said. “We always try to do a progressive enforcement where you don’t immediately slap somebody with a citation or a fine, especially when it has to deal with domesticated animals because that’s often a hard situation.”
Deputies returned to the area on Feb. 5 and found the cow in the same location and nothing had been done, according to the report.
A second neighbor told authorities the cow died while giving birth either that Thursday or Friday — Jan. 30 or 31 — and had been moved from the front of the Mulieri property.
She also said the disposal of animals has been an issue in the past.
James Mulieri was cited in 2012 for the same situation. During that incident, five cows were dumped in a swamp area on the property, emitting a smell and causing neighbors to complain.
James Mulieri said at the time someone poisoned his cows. There is no proof of poisoning in either case, according to the sheriff’s office.
A deputy visited Mulieri last Friday and photos were taken to give to the sheriff’s office forensic unit. Mulieri also received a citation. When the deputy asked James Mulieri to sign the citation, he argued with the deputy, the report said.
When the deputy informed Mulieri he would be cited regardless of his signature then began to walk back to his patrol car, Mulieri opened the gate to the property and signed and fingerprinted the paperwork.
When the deputy tried to explain the disposal process, Mulieri slammed the gate in his face, according to the report.