But Corinne DiLorenzo is at last sentenced
WATSEKA, Illinois––Corinne N. DiLorenzo, 40, suspected in the deaths of as many as 700 animals at her former Earth Animal Sanctuary in Thawville, Illinois, about 100 miles south of Chicago, on December 21, 2022 received a sentence amounting to an early Christmas present from Iroquois County Circuit Court judge Michael Sabol.
Copping a plea to misdemeanor cruelty in August 2022, DiLorenzo is to serve 18 months on probation.
“Judge Sabol also ordered DiLorenzo to pay a $500 fine,” plus $439 in court costs, “and to perform 30 hours of community service,” reported Will Brumleve of the Ford County Chronicle.
“Not to own or possess any pets or animals”
In addition, DiLorenzo is “not to own or possess any pets or animals while on probation,” Brumleve summarized.
“State’s Attorney Jim Devine did not seek any jail time for DiLorenzo,” Brumleve added.
DiLorenzo “originally was charged in November 2019 with one count of aggravated animal cruelty, a Class 4 felony,” Brumleve continued, “before entering an Alford plea on August 31 , 2022 to a lesser charge of cruel treatment of animals, a Class A misdemeanor.
“While the misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail,” Brumleve explained, “the plea agreement included an agreement by the state that they will not seek/request the imposition of a jail sentence, according to court records.”
Free on bail for three years
DiLorenzo has remained free, Brumleve added, “since posting 10% of her $10,000 bond upon her arrest on Christmas Eve in 2019.”
DiLorenzo on January 16, 2020 pleaded “not guilty” to the initial felony cruelty charge, ten days after her arrest, and demanded a jury trial.
“The COVID-19 crisis along with many delays from her legal team dragged out the case,” said Chicago Action for Animals executive director Jodie Wiederkehr in a December 23, 2022 media release.
“Would like to see her go to prison for life”
“Cruel Treatment of Animals can never be expunged from her permanent record, nor can she have the records sealed,” Wiederkehr said, “and her conviction will be visible to anyone who does a background check on her.
“Of course, we would like to see her go to prison for life,” Wiederkehr acknowledged, “since more than seven hundred animals vanished from the Earth Animal Sanctuary.
“However, not being allowed to own or possess any animals is key, and you can be certain that concerned citizens will be watching out to protect any animals from the sad fate that befell those who were put in her care.”
“This sentence is a victory”
Observed Tiny Hooves Sanctuary vice president Sandi Swiss, “It is still very difficult to get animal cruelty charges to stick, and even harder in rural counties. In a place like Iroquois County, this sentence is a victory, and can also be a stepping stone for future cases.”
DiLorenzo “became a public figure when a video she posted in 2014 to social media of her singing to a pig named Bentley garnered national attention,” reported Tiffani Homer for VegNews after DiLorenzo’s arraignment.
DiLorenzo at around the same time apparently also tried to establish herself as a vegan chef.
But DiLorenzo eventually dropped out of sight.
Wiederkehr brought missing animals to notice
“In early January 2019,” Homer narrated, “Jodie Wiederkehr—co-founder of Chicago Alliance for Animals and a former friend of DiLorenzo—began searching for DiLorenzo online and found mention of a barn fire at Earth Animal Sanctuary on the fundraising site GoFundMe.
“Surprised that no one in the Chicago animal advocacy community knew about the fire, Wiederkehr eventually learned from DiLorenzo’s ex-partner that all of the animals who had lived at the sanctuary were dead, either from the fire or unknown causes.”
Later in 2019, Homer wrote, “a group led by former Earth Animal Sanctuary board member Melissa Summer Pena found a crude burial site,” holding the remains, the group estimated, “of more than 600 animals.”
DiLorenzo apparently first ran into trouble for hoarding animals in 2010, at a rented home in Peoria, Illinois.
Fire in 2014
“In 2013, she moved into a mobile home near Gridley,” Homer said, owned by Tobein Tegard, who operates the Wedrose Acres Animal Sanctuary.
“According to officials,” Homer narrated, “against Tegard’s wishes, DiLorenzo built an enclosure for chickens and pigs on the property. The enclosure caught fire and killed all of the chickens.”
The fire apparently resulted from an electric space heater overloading the wiring.
Asked to leave the Wedrose Acres Animal Sanctuary in April 2014, DiLorenzo started the Earth Animal Sanctuary a month later.
“She would eventually take in hundreds of animals, placed there by private citizens, rescues and public animal control agencies,” including more than 70 animals from DuPage County animal control,” the Chicago Tribune summarized in 2020.
But the Earth Animal Sanctuary lost Illinois nonprofit status in 2016 for “failure to submit the proper yearly documentation,” the Chicago Tribune said.
2018 fire was considered “suspicious”
The September 2, 2018 fire, reported by DiLorenzo’s teenaged son, killed eight pigs, six ducks, six geese and 20 chickens, according to the Iroquois County sheriff’s office.
“The sheriff’s department classified the fire as suspicious,” the Chicago Tribune said. “It appeared an accelerant had been used to start the fire in the duck pen,” with “what (an investigator) identified as a pour pattern leading from the structure to the gate,” where “wooden matches were located.”
A January 2019 call to the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services hotline about suspected neglect of DiLorenzo’s son, the Chicago Tribune continued, brought sheriff’s deputies to the site with a search warrant.
“The son appeared in good health, but officials found so much filth in the home that investigators forbade him from residing there, according to the report,” the Chicago Tribune summarized.
DiLorenzo has apparently remained not far from Thawville, at addresses in Crete and Normal, Illinois, working for a time as an insurance agent.