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California

Former Palmdale public school administrator, 2 others plead to animal abuse charges

A former administrator at Palmdale School District and her live-in boyfriend pleaded no contest Tuesday to animal abuse charges, after authorities had to euthanize 19 pit bulls kept at the woman’s property.

In an Antelope Valley courtroom, Pauline Ruth Winbush, 53, and her boyfriend, Kevin Williams, 52, entered the plea to one felony count each of animal neglect and possession with the intent of dogfighting, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

As part of the plea deal, 27 other counts against Winbush and Williams will be dismissed.

The case began Oct. 29, 2014, when a horse owned by Winbush and Williams was found wandering the streets. Deputies later found scores of animals in poor condition at the couple’s Antelope Acres home. Inside the couple’s home, the dogs were kept in crates filled with urine and feces, prosecutors said.

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Some of the dogs bore signs of fighting with other dogs, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lyle Riggs said at the time.

Snakes and a tortoise were also kept at the home, along with a box with mice that “appeared to be eating each other out of hunger,” according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

A third person, Rodney Scott, 47, was linked to the case after evidence surfaced that he was involved in breeding pit bulls for dogfights, prosecutors said. Scott pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.

At a sentencing scheduled for May 5, Winbush faces 270 days in jail and Williams faces a year in jail. Scott, who is expected to be sentenced at a later date, is barred from owning or possessing animals for a year.

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Winbush launched her career in 1989 as an educator at the Los Angeles Unified School District before joining the Palmdale School District in 1992, according a biography that was previously posted on the district’s website. 

She ascended the administrative ranks, serving as assistant principal and principal before becoming an assistant superintendent of human resources. Before Raul Maldonado was named the district’s superintendent in May 2014, she served as the interim superintendent.

In February 2015, shortly after Winbush was charged, the district’s board voted unanimously to fire her, the Antelope Valley Times reported.

The district, the fourth-largest elementary school district in California and the largest in L.A. County, serves 22,000 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.


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