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Published: Saturday, 11/17/2001

Swanton woman who refused to pay fines is jailed

SWANTON - Mary Barker is in jail.

The Swanton woman who has avoided jail time while battling Fulton County courts for five years in an animal cruelty case has begun serving a five-day sentence for not paying fines.

Ms. Barker had ignored a court order to report to the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio Thursday morning, refusing to take herself to the jail near Stryker.

But sheriff's deputies arrested and transported her to the regional jail after Judge Mark Powers signed an arrest and immediate incarceration warrant late in the day.

Ms. Barker owes more than $2,000 in fines, imposed after she was convicted of animal cruelty and resisting arrest in 1996. Barker, 43, and Jose Vasquez operated Mary and Joe's Petland from a house on Airport Highway.

She has been on probation since that time but has not paid fines.

After suspending 25 days of a 30-day sentence for nonpayment of the fines, Judge Powers ordered Ms. Barker to transport herself to jail on Thursday because she had not voluntarily scheduled her five days incarceration.

But Ms. Barker stayed in her house, where several scrawled signs protest the way she and her former business have been treated by the village of Swanton and county courts.

Ms. Barker will be released from jail Nov. 20.

“She'll still owe the fines, but the court here must wait to see what happens in U.S. District Court,” said Christine Mossing, clerk of the Eastern District Court here.

Ms. Barker said yesterday that she will represent herself and has filed an appeal of the fines based on indigence.

“They're [the court] taking advantage of somebody who ain't got money,” Ms. Barker said. “I have no bank account, no credit cards, and no car that runs any good. And, anyway, if I gave them money, it would be robbery. They already robbed me of my business.”

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