RISING SUN — A Cecil County grand jury has handed up a 78-count indictment that charges the former owner of a Rising Sun pet shop with animal cruelty and related offenses — marking the second such charging document filed against her since January 2019, according to court records.
In the latest criminal case, the defendant, Crystal Loraine Romine, 38, of the unit block of Queen Street in Rising Sun, is charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty, which is a felony that is punishable by up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine, court records show.
Romine also is charged with 76 misdemeanor counts of failure to provide for an animal, which, depending on the specific offense, relates to food, water, space and veterinary care, according to Cecil County Circuit Court records. The indictment was unsealed on Jan. 27, the same day that Romine was arrested and later released, court records show.
The indictment stems from the Oct. 26 seizure of 45 animals “found living in neglectful conditions” inside Romine’s downtown Rising Sun residence by officers with the Animal Welfare Division of Cecil County Animal Services, according to court records.
A jury trial for Romine is scheduled to start July 27 and is expected to last three days, court records show.
Investigators reported that Romine had been living with those animals at that 10 S. Queen St. address, where she had operated a storefront pet shop and her Eden Rehab and Rescue, an animal welfare non-profit.
Specifically, the confiscated animals included 17 cats, three dogs, three snakes, one guinea pig, two turtles, one tarantula, two birds, 13 goldfish, and three beta fish, according to a then-Cecil County Government spokeswoman, who further reported in a written statement released at the time that CCAS agents also removed two dead animals from the place.
“The animals were found to be kept in deplorable conditions, including limited access to fresh food and water,” the spokeswoman said. The agents transported the seized animals to CCAC’s headquarters near Chesapeake City, where they received a variety of needed care, she added.
It marked the second time in 21 months that CCAS agents had seized animals in the care of Romine, who is the founder of Eden Rehab and Rescue, the animal welfare nonprofit, according to court records and Cecil Whig archives.
In January 2019, after receiving complaints, CCAS investigators seized a total of 63 animals from Romine while conducting two search and seizure warrants, one at her storefront space at 10 S. Queen St. in Rising Sun — the same place the seizure of animals occurred on Oct. 26 — and at a kennel space she rented from Captain’s Quarters on Deaver Road near Elkton, court records show.
Relating to that animal seizure, investigators allege that Romine intentionally tortured three dogs and that she failed to provide “nutritious food in sufficient quantity,” as well as proper amounts of water and space and necessary veterinary care for the animals in her care, according to charging documents.
Romine, who has maintained her innocence in previous Cecil Whig articles, is facing 121 animal cruelty charges relating to that January 2019 seizure of animals, court records show. Her jury trial in that case is set to start on June 22 and it, too, is expected to last three days, according to court records.
Regarding the most recent criminal case against Romine, Rising Sun Police Department Chief Francis “Chip” Peterson told the Cecil Whig that officers discovered the purported neglected animals living in alleged squalor inside Romine’s residence on Oct. 26, while conducting an assault investigation, and then they, in turn, contacted CCAS officers.
RSPD officers responded to an apartment across the street from Romine’s residence at approximately 2 p.m. on Oct. 26, after Romine’s mother, Dawn Satterfield, 59, called authorities and reported that Romine had assaulted her on the previous night while Satterfield was seated on a couch at her daughter’s “residence/workplace,” according to Peterson and charging documents.
After officers had interviewed Satterfield, they went across South Queen Street to Romine’s residence at her former pet shop to interview Romine about the alleged assault, Peterson reported. Officers also went there to check on Romine’s welfare, because her mother had expressed concern regarding Romine’s mental health, according to Peterson.
An ambulance crew transported Romine from her residence to an area hospital, according to Peterson, who explained, “(Officers) could tell she was having some sort of mental health issue.”
Later on Oct. 26, CCAS agents seized 45 animals found inside Romine’s residence.
RSPD investigators charged Romine with second-degree assault in the case in which her mother is the alleged victim, according to court records, which indicate that Romine is scheduled for a Cecil County District Court bench trial on March 30.
Court records also show, however, that RSPD officers charged Satterfield with two counts of making a false statement to a police officer, after Satterfield, during a follow-up interview a few days later, allegedly retracted her allegation that “she was brutally assaulted by her daughter.”
“Dawn Satterfield stated on October 30th, 2020, that she forgot what she had told officers and that she has simply sustained injuries as a result of falling and that her daughter never assaulted her,” court records allege.