The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Developer, Jeanne Rizzotto to Hand Over Ownership of Carbon County Properites

Quote-"Developer to hand over ownership of Carbon County properties
A Red Lodge developer who has received recent national media attention for the two chimpanzees she has raised like children appeared today in a state court in Billings to be sentenced for contempt.

Jeanne Rizzotto appeared before Judge Gregory Todd, who previously found the 54-year-old woman in contempt for failing to pay a $155,000 bad check debt. Rizzotto testified for about 45 minutes, telling the judge her efforts to make good on the debt have been frustrated by the poor economy and her complicated financial picture.

At the end of the hearing, Todd ordered Rizzotto to turn over ownership of four Carbon County properties to James and Connie Casey, who Rizzotto owes $155,000 for a check she wrote the couple last year. The judge also ordered Rizzotto to pay the couple's attorney fees, give the Caseys a security interest on a planned golf course and resort development project near Red Lodge, and provide the court with a list of all of her assets within 30 days.

Todd scheduled a status hearing for April 27.
Rizzotto has garnered both local and national media attention recently, but the interest has mostly focused on her unusual pets, two chimpanzees she has raised like children. In early March, Rizzotto appeared on NBC's "Today" to talk about her unusual family. The interview followed a chimpanzee attack in Connecticut in which a woman was seriously injured by a chimp kept as a pet.

Closer to home, Red Lodge health officials recently ordered Rizzotto to quarantine her chimps and provide medical records after one of the animals bit a neighbor. The contempt hearing Friday was delayed for several hours when Rizzotto's attorney, Robert Stephens, called the judge to say Rizzotto was having trouble finding someone to stay with her chimps.

The contempt case heard in Billings today began last September when Carbon County District Judge Blair Jones ordered Rizzotto to deposit $155,000 into an account in order to make good on a bad check she wrote to the Caseys in a business deal. Rizzotto stopped payment on the check before it was deposited, and then filed a motion with the court to give her time to pay the debt.

The case was later transferred to Todd's court in Billings when Jones recused himself. Rizzotto is facing several other legal issues in Carbon County, including a criminal charge related to the chimp biting incident.

Todd ordered Rizzotto in contempt after she failed to make the $155,000 payment by March 4 as he had previously ordered. At the hearing Friday, Stephens argued that his client had made a good faith effort to pay the debt, but the faltering economy had frustrated those efforts. Rizzotto testified that she had recently paid attorneys about $85,000 to help her with legal issues, including preparing for a bankruptcy filing.

Rizzotto testified that she owns 25 to 30 properties, mostly in Carbon County, and has total assets of about $8 million with debts of about $3 million. Rizzotto said she is trying to sell a property valued at about $800,000 for about $250,000 to make good on the debt to the Caseys, but the bank has not yet approved the sale.

Rizzotto faced detailed and lengthy questions from Casey's attorneys, who asked about several aspects of her real estate development business and property holdings. One of the attorneys, Doug James, asked Rizzotto if she had tried to sell her chimps to pay her debts.

"That's not funny," Rizzotto replied. "No, they are not for sale."

James then asked Rizzotto what value she would place on her exotic pets.

"I would have to say they are priceless," she said. "

Published on Friday, March 20, 2009.
Last modified on 3/20/2009 at 9:21 pm


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