Men in Helena Valley animal cruelty case ordered to pay county $323,292 in restitution

Phil Drake

A father and son who operated a Helena Valley Quarter Horse breeding operation were sentenced Wednesday for felony aggravated animal cruelty and ordered to pay the county $323,292.36 in restitution for caring for the 58 horses taken from their property more than a year ago.

The three-hour sentencing hearing for Robert and Alan Erickson, which sometimes turned caustic, was before Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Kathy Seeley, who dismissed the prosecution’s request to sentence the men to 180 days in jail. There will be no early discharge from supervision.

However, they received a six-year deferred sentence in which the Ericksons could not own or care for horses. The horses removed from their property will not be returned and will be given new homes. And there would not be any early release from the six-year deferred sentence.

“This was not a livelihood, this is some sort of odd hobby these fellows had,” Seeley said.

Lewis and Clark Deputy County Attorney Fallon Stanton was pleased with the judge’s decision.

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