A felony fraud charge has been dismissed for a Dubuque County farmer who had been accused of operating an unlicensed slaughter operation.
Patrick D. Cook, 67, of rural Holy Cross, previously was charged in Iowa District Court of Dubuque County with second-degree fraudulent practice.
While trial information was filed May 11, Cook was not arrested on a warrant until July 19.
Cook’s attorney, Jeffrey Hiatt, filed a motion for dismissal in September, citing Cook’s demand for a speedy trial. Hiatt argued in documents that the speedy trial deadline would be Aug. 9, 90 days after trial information was filed.
Assistant Dubuque County Attorney Emily Chamberland argued in documents that the speedy trial deadline was triggered by Cook’s arraignment being filed, which occurred in August. The resistance also argues that Cook did not bring up the speedy trial deadline in other court proceedings after the “alleged” deadline passed.
Last week, Judge Monica Zrinyi Ackley dismissed the felony charge against Cook, stating in documents that the May 11 indictment triggered the speedy trial deadline and that “the State failed to carry its burden to establish good cause (for the delay).”
“The State offered no explanation as to the delay in bringing the charges over a year after the last alleged act,” Ackley’s order states. “The State offered no explanation as to why the warrant was not served for over 60 days when (Cook) was living at the same place as the alleged criminal conduct occurred. He was not hiding, living under an assumed name or otherwise trying to avoid the law.”
Court documents state that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship began investigating Cook in November 2019, when a compliance officer with the state agency agreed to purchase 15 pounds of rope sausage from Cook.
Iowa regulators obtained a search warrant for Cook’s farm on March 20, 2020, and met with Cook and investigated the property with the assistance of the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department.
Cook told investigators that he purchased swine from a local swine producer for $125 each and that the swine were slaughtered “in an uncontrolled environment by the (farm’s milking) parlor” without the swine being stunned first, documents state.
The swine then were “skinned, eviscerated, split with a reciprocating saw and placed into the walk-in cooler in the machine shed,” documents state.
Cook admitted that he had been selling pork products for six years, documents state. Cook signed a written statement and a compliance agreement to discontinue unlicensed slaughter and processing operations, but regulators performed a covert purchase from Cook on Jan. 30, 2021, documents state.
Cook still faces a charge of meat and poultry license violation. His next hearing date is scheduled for Dec. 1.