Early, Iowa woman pleads guilty in death of pigs, faces up to a decade in prison


SAC CITY, Iowa — An Early, Iowa, woman faces up to 10 years in prison after entering a plea in connection with the deaths of more than 1,000 pigs in Sac County hog confinement facilities.

Elana Laber, 34, entered an Alford plea Monday in Sac County District Court to one count of first-degree criminal mischief. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but the judge enters a guilty plea into the record. Laber also has agreed to enter a written guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of livestock neglect. That plea has yet to be filed, according to online court records.

According to terms of a plea agreement, a judge at Laber’s Nov. 21 sentencing hearing will decide if she will serve a 10-prison sentence or whether it will be suspended. Additional charges of first-degree criminal mischief and animal neglect will be dismissed.

Law enforcement officers discovered the dead pigs in varying stages of decomposition in two confinement sites in late June after receiving a report. The pigs had had no access to feed or water.

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According to the Sac County Sheriff’s Office, Laber, whose job was to maintain both sites, told deputies someone had shut off the breakers that control the electricity the night before, causing the pigs’ deaths. A veterinarian inspection determined the pigs had been dead for at least a week. Laber later told deputies she knew the pigs had been dead but did not know what to do.

The pigs were owned by Corey AGR Inc., of Lytton, Iowa. The estimated loss is more than $150,000.

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