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Man accused in Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse appears in court for first time

NEWTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A suspect in custody for the Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse case will be released from jail Wednesday. The former Fair Oaks Farm employee had his bond reduction hearing Wednesday morning in Newton County.

Edgar Gardozo-Vazquez had a bond set at $20,000 cash and 10-percent permitted, meaning he could have bonded out at $2,000. He bonded out at $1,000 on Wednesday.

The judge agreed to reduce his bond after his partner took the stand and testified for him. A family friend translated for the courtroom when she testified. His partner said, “He’s not doing anything wrong. I know he’s innocent.”

The woman told the judge she only had $1,000 for bond because she just got surgery and has not been working. 

The woman told the courtroom she and Gardozo-Vazquez were not married, but have been in a relationship for several years. She said they have one child together, and she has two other children from a previous relationship. 

The woman said he is the only supporter for their family and all three children. She told the judge he has another job lined up already in Kankakee, Illinois. She said he will be working at the Del Monte factory there once he is released from jail. He would start work immediately.

Alongside Gardozo-Vazquez’s partner in the crowd were two children and her father. The family lives in a home in Brook, Indiana. The partner told the judge before living in Brook, they lived in Rensselaer. Gardozo-Vazquez has lived in Indiana for a total of 14 years. Before coming to Indiana, he lived in Mexico. He still has family in Mexico, but has not been back since moving to Indiana. She said when he is released from jail he will move back in with the family. 

The state asked if Gardozo-Vazquez was released, how she would assure he would show up to future court dates. Through translation, the partner replied “He’s a good person and he’s going to show up in court. I promise to you [judge] he will come back to court.” She then explained he will show up [to court] because he knows if he doesn’t, he won’t be with his family because he will be in jail. 

The partner denied knowing about any previous criminal activity of Gardozo-Vazquez. 

Gardozo-Vazquez is the only suspect that has been taken into custody in this case. The 36-year old was arrested on a warrant for animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a Level 6 felony.

Immigration Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has placed a hold on him.

Animal Recovery Mission said they had someone working at the farm undercover for three months documenting what they saw. 

Gardozo Vazquez is one of three suspects in this case. The other two, Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros and Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano, have not been arrested. There are outstanding warrants for their arrests.

News 18 spoke with the attorney for Gardozo-Vazquez, and he did not want to comment on Wednesday’s hearing.

The next hearing for Gardozo-Vazquez is on Aug.12 at the Newton County Courthouse.


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