February 5, 2009

Former Greenbrier turkey farm workers indicted on abuse charges

By The Press

LEWISBURG, W.Va. -- A grand jury has indicted three former employees of a West Virginia turkey farm on animal abuse charges after they were videotaped stomping the birds' heads and twisting their necks.

Eleven of 19 counts are felony offenses. Norfolk, Va.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which had an undercover operative film the abuse last fall, says it's the first time U.S. factory farm workers have faced such charges.

Each felony is punishable by up to five years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanors carry possible sentences of six months and up to $2,000 in fines.

Indicted this week were: 25-year-old Walter Lee Hambrick of Fairlea; 33-year-old Scott Alvin White of Second Creek; and 21-year-old Edward Eric Gwinn of Crawley.

Aviagen Turkeys Inc. fired all three in November.