A 62-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in county jail for mistreating more than a dozen horses in Meade County between September 2016 and this January.

LeRoy James of Hermosa was convicted at trial this month on three misdemeanor counts of neglect, abandonment or mistreatment of an animal. Magistrate Judge Francy Foral of the 4th Circuit Court sentenced him on each count to 360 days in jail with 350 days suspended, as well as 360 days of probation, according to court records.

James still owns 15 horses, which the prosecution recommended that he immediately sell, said Meade County Deputy State’s Attorney Michele Bordewyk.

The judge instead ordered James to provide official proof by March 1 that the horses are being cared for; otherwise, he should sell the animals within two weeks. They were being kept in a rural property southeast of Sturgis, referred to in court documents as the McFarland property. James was forbidden from obtaining more livestock for three years.

He was also fined $1,500 and ordered to pay back the Meade County Sheriff’s Office $270 for the hay it fed the horses early this year, Bordewyk said. Members of the public, such as a Box Elder horse-boarding facility and neighbors who saw the animals' malnourished condition, also donated hay.

James was the first person convicted at trial in Meade County of misdemeanor animal mistreatment since South Dakota passed a 2014 law that created a felony-level offense for animal cruelty, Bordewyk said.

Contact Tiffany Tan at tiffany.tan@rapidcityjournal.com.

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