by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher –

On Wednesday, May 11, 2022 the city of Pass Christian Municipal Court convicted Richard and Ethel Ross for 69 counts of animal abuse. The defendants attempted to make a guilty plea, which Pass Christian City Prosecutor Ed Edwards and the defense attorney; Owen McNally, agreed to a recommendation on, but the Municipal Court Judge Lewie “Skip” Negrotto informed them he would not follow the recommendation totally.

“First off, you’re giving up the right to a speedy public trial and giving up an appeal,” said Judge Negrotto to the defendants who verbally acknowledges this by pleading guilty. “I will tell you that I will follow the recommendation to a degree. I am only going to accept these 65 counts of time served contingent upon the completion of everything done in this plea arrangement. If for some reason, you don’t follow everything in this agreement, you’re not going to walk away with time served.” 

In discussing the four additional counts, Negrotto stated “With the four counts; which you are pleading guilty to, there will be $500 per charge consecutively that means they are added on top of each other for a total of $2000. My understanding upon the recommendation is that it will be suspended after you’re completion of everything else we’ve talked about. The court costs which are about $150 per count, will not be suspended. If you fail to complete these recommendations, you will serve two years.” 

At the conclusion of the judgment, the couple’s sentence was: 

  • Defendants were found guilty on 65 counts of animal abuse and given time served. 
  • Defendants were found guilty on 4 additional counts and sentenced to 180 days in jail for each county that will be suspended for payment in full of all restitution and assessments. 
  • Each Defendant shall pay $500 on each of the four counts with the fine suspended for payment in full of all restitution and assessments.
  • Each Defendant is to pay a total of $7,545 restitution to the city of Pass Christian. The restitution shall be paid in the amount of $250 per month until  the entire amount is paid in full. The amount shall accrue simple interest at  5% per year and the payment begins July 1, 2022. 
  • Each Defendant shall pay a $200 attorney fee assessment to the Pass Christian Municipal Court. 
  • Defendants shall be on probation until the restitution is paid in full. Until the city of Pass Christian inspects the defendant’s house and is ruled no longer a health hazard, the twenty-four year old daughter will not be allowed to return.
  • No longer be allowed to own or possess a cat or dog.

This was the conclusion of the arrest made on March 10, 2022 wherethe Pass Christian Police Department, along with assistance of Animal Control Officers from the Pass Christian Fire Department,  Long Beach Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the Humane Society of South Mississippi seized 70 animals from their residence in the city.

Unofficially, the Ross couple has been living in the house despite the ruling by the Pass Christian Board of Aldermen at the April 19th meeting. The ruling at this time stated upon inspection and recommendation from the City Building Code Director, no one could live in this house because of sanitation or compliance.

After the meeting, the Ross couple informed the Building Code Director; Tom Duffy, that they would be living homeless without access to the house.  According to Pass Christian City Attorney Malcolm Jones, once Duffy mentioned this to the board of aldermen, the Ross couple was allowed to move back in their house.