Donkey saga continues in Oswego County

By Debra J. Groom

A legal case involving Oswego County, three sheriff’s deputies, four Granby residents and four donkeys may have reached a settlement.

The Oswego County Legislature recently authorized Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner to execute a settlement in a case brought by Henry and Betty Suhr, Paul White and Darlene Franke against the county and three Oswego County sheriff’s deputies.

The settlement does not provide for any monetary compensation to be paid to the Suhrs, White or Franke.

The Suhrs, White and Franke sued the county, deputies Michael Beckwith and Charles Midlar and an unnamed deputy concerning the removal of three donkeys – Olive, Libby and Lizzy – from property owned by White and Franke on County Route 85.

According to the lawsuit, the Suhrs owned the donkeys and had an oral agreement with White and Franke to house the animals at their property.

The four say in their lawsuit that the deputies came to the White-Franke property in July 2009 and removed the donkeys without having a search warrant or arrest warrant and without the permission of White or Franke.

The removal of the animals from the White-Franke property is just part of the donkey saga.

Back in 2010, the Suhrs sued Kim Sitzer, of Hannibal, in state Supreme Court stating they loaned the animals to Sitzer for breeding purposes in 2004 as long as Sitzer cared for the donkeys properly.

When they discovered the animals had health issues and one (a male named Arturo) had died, the Suhrs tried to take the animals back from Sitzer and were arrested for petit larceny and trespass. Those charges were dropped.

The Suhrs took Sitzer to court, stating the donkeys were theirs and not hers. The Suhrs lost that court case, which was heard before Justice Norman Seiter.

While the case was going on, the Suhrs put up numerous signs on their property at the  corner of County Route 85 and state Route 48. The signs – which consisted of statements against the sheriff’s department and Sitzer – were up for months.

While the Suhrs, White and Franke were suing the county and the deputies for taking the donkeys, the deputies countersued the Suhrs, White and Franke stating the statements they made in their suit were false and for defamation for the statements made in the signs on the Suhrs property.

The lawyer for the Suhrs, White and Franke did not return calls seeking comment.

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