Rizzotto makes initial appearance on public nuisance charge
Justice of the Peace Johnny Seiffert said Rizzotto appeared in court but declined to enter a plea, at which point the court followed routine procedure and entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. Seiffert said the case is moving toward a trial, with a pre-trial hearing set for May 12.
The misdemeanor charge alleges that Rizzotto "created a condition which endangers safety and health" when one of her chimps attacked and bit a woman last November. Officials refer to the chimps escaping from their enclosure, but Rizzotto maintains their getaway was the result of vandalism.
Upon conviction, the public nuisance charge carries with it a maximum fine of $500 or imprisonment in the county jail for no longer than six months.
As the result of the alleged incident and another nationally-publicized chimp attack in Connecticut, the Carbon County Board of Health has given Rizzotto 30 days from March 12 to update the chimps' health records and provide those records to the county. They have also recommended that she place her two chimpanzees in a chimpanzee sanctu-ary.