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Animal Rescue Team Founder Arrested for Allegedly Violating Court Order

Julia Di Sieno Click to view larger
Julia Di Sieno

The founder of the Animal Rescue Team in Solvang has been arrested for allegedly violating a court order issued after she was charged with four misdemeanor counts of stalking and making criminal threats.

Julia Di Sieno, 57, was taken into custody without incident on Monday for violating the court order, possessing firearms although she had been prohibited from having them, and possessing a baton, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

The arrest came weeks after she was charged with two misdemeanor counts of stalking and two misdemeanor counts of making criminal threats in December, with the alleged victims identified as neighbors Mary and Richard Nohr.

Di Sieno and neighbors of her Carriage Drive property outside Solvang city limits have had an extended feud over the animal rescue group’s operations.

She was sent a letter and ordered to appear in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on the charges Dec. 22, entering not guilty pleas.

Judge James Iwasko issued a criminal protective order that demanded Di Sieno refrain from harrassing, annoying or threatening the Nohrs and stay 150 yards away from them or their animals. 

The order also banned Di Sieno from owning firearms or other weapons.

The judge did not include an expiration date on the criminal protection order, meaning it will be effective for three years. 

However, Di Sieno did not comply with orders to surrender firearms with 24 hours of the Dec. 22 hearing or provide a receipt within 48 hours showing she had surrended the weapons.

On Friday, Hoover said, patrol deputies responded for a report of an alleged violation of a criminal protective order, allegedly perpetrated by Di Sieno toward the Nohrs.

"Based on the deputies' investigation, Di Sieno was in fact believed to have violated the protection order and the case was ultimately forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office requesting criminal charges be brought forth against Di Sieno," Hoover said.

Detectives investigating the allegations learned Di Sieno may not have surrendered her weapons, prompting them to obtain a search warrant served on her residence. 

"As a result of the warrant service, numerous firearms were located along with a copious amount of ammunition of various calibers throughout Di Sieno’s residence," Hoover said.

In the past year, Animal Rescue Team has fended off a cease-and-desist order from Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department representatives who later rescinded the notice of violation and order to quit.

The organization also saw its permit to operate drastically changed to limit the critters cared for at the site.

In the three-year permit set to expire March 31, 2020, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife prohibited coyotes, foxes and deer, allowing her to care for only smaller animals such as birds, rabbits, opossums, raccoons and squirrels.

Di Sieno was released from Santa Barbara County Jail after posting $20,000 bail, Hoover said.

She is scheduled to appear in court on the misdemeanor stalking and making criminal threats case on Feb. 20 before Judge John McGregor.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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