Teacher who had hundreds of snakes in his house to be charged

A Newport Beach schoolteacher who was arrested earlier this year after authorities searched his home and found hundreds of pythons, many of them dead, will be formally charged Monday, prosecutors said.

William F. Buchman, 53, of Santa Ana is facing a felony count of animal abuse by a caretaker, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

If convicted, the elementary school teacher faces up to three years in state prison.

Animal control officers in January discovered more than 400 nonvenomous snakes inside Buchman’s home—240 were dead or died soon after they were taken from the house. Another 182 were still alive but malnourished, dehydrated and covered with mites and maggots, according to the statement. The others were handed over to rescue groups in California.

Authorities searched Buchman’s home after neighbors complained to police about a stench coming from the house.

During their search, animal control officers said they found dead snakes still in plastic containers and no evidence of food or water in any of the cages.

Neighbors and officials said Buchman, a sixth-grade teacher and python breeder, had become increasingly reclusive after the death of his mother a few years ago.

Buchman, who is out of custody on his own recognizance, is expected to be arraigned Monday morning at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Esquivel writes for the Los Angeles Times and can be reached at paloma.esquivel@latimes.com.

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