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RETURN DATE: February 2, 2010

STATE OF CONNECTICUT EX REL,


RAYMOND CONNERS : SUPERIOR COURT
CHIEF STATE ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER :
: JUDICIAL DISTRICT
v. : OF HARTFORD
: AT HARTFORD
:
NINETEEN (19) HORSES, THREE (3) MULES, : DECEMBER 23, 2009
ONE (1) GOAT, TWO (2) GUINEA PIGS, TWO :
(2) RABBITS, TWO (2) DOVES, ONE (1) :
PARAKEET, TWO (2) FERRETS, AND FOUR (4) :
DOGS

VERIFIED PETITION

1. The plaintiff in this matter is the State of Connecticut ex rel, Raymond Connors,

State of Connecticut Animal Control Officer (“Chief State Animal Control Officer”), who

pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-328(b), may exercise the powers granted to any State Animal

Control Officer.

2. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a, any animal control officer may lawfully

take physical custody of any animal upon issuance of a warrant finding probable cause that such

animal is neglected or found cruelly treated, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-247 and may

seek to obtain temporary and permanent custody of any animal who is neglected or who is

cruelly treated in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-247.

3. Pursuant to a search and seizure warrant signed on December 15, 2009 and

executed on December 16, 2009, the State of Connecticut, Department of Agriculture (“the

Department”), through a State Animal Control Officer(s), seized nineteen (19) horses, three (3)

mules (hereinafter the horses and mules seized are collectively termed “the equine”), as well as
one (1) goat, two (2) guinea pigs, two (2) rabbits, two (2) doves, one (1) parakeet, two (2) ferrets,

and four (4) dogs (hereinafter all of the animals seized on December 16, 2009 are collectively

termed “the animals”) at 130 and/or 138 Spring Road, North Haven, Connecticut (“the

property”). (Search and Seizure Warrant is attached as Exhibit 1).

4. On December 16, 2009 the plaintiff took physical custody of the animals

pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a(b) and now seeks to obtain temporary and permanent

custody of the animals pursuant to the procedures outlined in Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 22-329a and to

recoup expenses incurred by the State.

5. Upon information and belief, Gina-Lee Rapuano (“Rapuano”) is the owner of the

property and the owner of many of the animals that are the subject of this petition.

6. Upon information and belief, Rapuano owns at least nine, and up to fourteen of

the horses, the goat, the guinea pigs, the rabbits, the doves, the parakeet, the ferrets, and the dogs.

7. Upon information and belief, Rapuano currently resides at the property.

8. Upon information and belief, Paul Novicki (“Novicki”) is the owner of four of the

horses and two of the mules that were kept at the property, that are the subject of this petition.

9. Upon information and belief, Novicki has repeatedly been the subject of neglect

and/or cruel treatment of animals pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a and dozens of animals

owned by Novicki have been seized and adjudicated neglected by this Court.

10. In Connecticut ex rel. Barbara Godejohn v. Twenty-Seven Horses, et al., CV-03-

0826954-S, the State petitioned for ownership of twenty-seven (27) horses, one (1) mule, and

one (1) cow owned by Novicki pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a. On September 22,

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2003, after a hearing and finding that the twenty-seven horses, mule, and cow were neglected,

the Court, Stengel, J., vested ownership of these animals in the Department of Agriculture.

11. Upon information and belief, as a result of his mistreatment of the twenty-seven

horses, Novicki was criminally charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals. On

December 16, 2003, Novicki entered a plea to two counts of cruelty to animals and was placed

on probation. On October 1, 2004, the Court, Frazzini, J., changed a condition of probation

prohibiting Novicki from possessing horses and granted Novicki permission to lease his property

to “rough board” one horse.

12. In State ex rel. Barbara Godejohn v. One Horse, One Donkey, One Mule, Seven

Chickens, and Eighteen Chicks, CV-05-4011761-S, the state again instituted a Conn. Gen. Stat. §

22-329a action for ownership of Novicki animals. The Court, Bryant, J., vested ownership of

these animals with the Department of Agriculture.

13. Upon information and belief, as a result of his mistreatment of the animals

referenced in paragraph 12, on April 6, 2006, Novicki was criminally convicted of one count of

animal cruelty and was placed on probation.

14. In State ex rel. Maureen Griffin v. Five (5) Horses, Three (3) Mules, Thirty-Eight

(38) Rabbits, Two (2) Chickens, Two (2) Ducks & Three (3) Pheasants, CV-07-4032281-S, at the

conclusion of an evidentiary hearing for temporary care and custody held on September 10,

2007, the Court, Graham, J., found that there was reasonable cause to find that the animals’

condition and circumstances surrounding their care required that custody of the animals be

placed on a temporary basis with the Department of Agriculture. Thereafter, ownership of all the

animals was ordered by the Court to the Department of Agriculture after Novicki failed to post

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the requisite bond required by statute and Novicki voluntarily relinquished ownership of all of

these animals.

15. Upon information and belief, Novicki resides in Hamden, Connecticut.

16. Upon information and belief, Crystal Kelly (“Kelly”) is the owner of one of the

horses and one of the mules that were kept at the property, that are the subject of this petition.

17. Upon information and belief, Kelly resides in Wallingford, CT.

18. Upon information and belief, Tom Jermine (“Jermine”) is the owner of one of the

horses that were kept on the property, that were subject to the seizure.

19. Upon information and belief, Jermine resides in East Haven, CT.

20. Upon information and belief, one or two of the horses that were kept at the

property, that are the subject of this petition, is claimed to be owned by David Rusgrove

(“Rusgrove”). This change of ownership, from Rapuano to Rusgrove, is alleged to have

occurred a few days prior to the seizure by the Department. No written proof of the alleged

change of ownership has been forthcoming.

21. Upon information and belief, Rusgrove resides in Meriden, CT.

22. Upon information and belief, Rapuano has claimed that Margaret Blancato owns

one of the horses that was kept at the property, that is the subject of this petition. This change of

ownership, from Rapuano to Blancato, is alleged, by Rapuano, to have occurred a few days prior

to the seizure by the Department. No written proof of this alleged change of ownership has been

forthcoming.

23. Upon information and belief, Blancato resides in Meriden, CT.

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24. Upon information and belief, Rapuano has claimed that a Diane “Chizck” owns

one of the horses that was kept at the property, that is the subject of this petition. This change of

ownership, from Rapuano to “Chizck,” is alleged, by Rapuano, to have occurred a few days prior

to the seizure by the Department. No written proof of this alleged change of ownership has been

forthcoming. Rapuano has not provided the spelling of this individual’s name, or this

individual’s address or this individual’s telephone number.

25. State Animal Control Officer Barbara Godejohn (“ACO Godejohn”) inspected

and monitored equine, and other animals housed outside on the property from February 2005, to

the time of seizure on December 16, 2009.

26. Equine were inspected at the property by one or more state animal control

officer(s) on or about February 17, 2005, March 18, 2005, April 27, 2005, June 8, 2006, October

9, 2008, November 12, 2008, January 22, 2009, March 4, 2009, July 8, 2009, December 7, 2009,

December 9, 2009, and December 11, 2009.

27. During an inspection of the property on February 17, 2005, ACO Godejohn

observed approximately eighteen (18) horses at the property. ACO Godejohn observed that there

was very little hay or grain on the property and that there was not enough food at the property for

the horses to eat for the rest of the day. ACO Godejohn observed that the stalls where the horses

were kept were filthy with excrement. ACO Godejohn observed that two (2) of the horses were

in thin condition. ACO Godejohn orally advised Rapuano to increase the body weight of the thin

horses and to have a farrier check the horses’ hooves and trim the hooves as needed.

28. On or about March 18, 2005, ACO Godejohn and Animal Control Officer Richard

Gregan (“ACO Gregan”) inspected the property. ACO Godejohn observed approximately

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seventeen (17) horses at the property and that at this inspection, at least five (5) of the horses

were now in thin condition. ACO Godejohn observed that there was no grain at all and very

little hay to feed the horses at the property. ACO Godejohn verbally advised Rapuano that the

thin horses needed to gain weight and that the horses had to be provided a sufficient amount of

adequate food.

29. During the inspection of the property on or about March 18, 2005, ACO

Godejohn observed that the stalls where the horses were kept were still filthy with excrement and

that there was standing water in the barn that was approximately ankle deep. ACO Godejohn

observed that several of the horses needed to have their hoofs trimmed.

30. On or about April 27, 2005, ACOs Godejohn and Gregan inspected the property.

ACO Godejohn observed that several horses were still thin. ACO Godejohn observed grain on

the property but only two (2) bales of hay to feed approximately eighteen horses. The horses did

not have access to enough food to feed them for the rest of the day. The stalls were dirty with

fecal material and needed to be cleaned. ACO Godejohn verbally advised Rapuano that the thin

horses needed to gain weight and that the horses had to be provided a sufficient amount of

adequate food.

31. In response to the April 27, 2005 inspection, by letter dated June 1, 2005, ACO

Godejohn advised Rapuano in writing that the horses stalls must be kept clean and free of excess

manure; that a veterinarian must examine the horses in thin condition if they are not gaining

weight; to follow any veterinarian recommendations; and that the horses must be provided with

wholesome air, food, and water.

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32. On or about June 8, 2006, ACO Godejohn inspected the property and observed

approximately twenty-one (21) horses at the property and five (5) of the horses were

underweight. ACO Godejohn observed that the horses were kept in dirty stalls and that nails

were sticking out of plywood in certain stalls which could injure the horses. Rats and mice were

observed in the stalls. The stalls were dirty with fecal material and needed to be cleaned. ACO

Godejohn verbally advised Rapuano that the thin horses needed to gain weight and that the

horses had to be provided a sufficient amount of adequate food.

33. On or about October 6, 2008, ACO Godejohn received a complaint by a

veterinarian that several of the horses at the property were thin, had no water, and that fecal

matter in the stalls was knee deep.

34. On or about October 9, 2008, ACO Godejohn inspected the property in response

to the veterinarian complaint and observed approximately twenty-two (22) horses at the property.

ACO Godejohn observed two (2) very thin horses and one (1) thin horse and verbally advised

Rapuano to provide proper food to these horses so that they could put on more weight. Two (2)

horses at the property had no water at all to drink and four (4) caged ducks on the property had

no water at all to drink. The stalls where the horses were kept were extremely dirty with fecal

material and needed to be cleaned.

35. On or about November 12, 2008, ACOs Godejohn and Gregan inspected the

property. During the inspection ACO Godejohn observed approximately twenty-nine (29)

horses at the property. During the inspection the horses were all photographed and “weight-

taped” to determine their weight. ACO Godejohn observed twenty-three (23) underweight

horses, of which thirteen (13) appeared to have a significant loss of body fat. Eleven (11) of

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these horses appeared to be so thin that ACO Godejohn was concerned about the health and well-

being of these horses and whether these horses would survive the winter.

36. During the November 12, 2008 inspection, ACO Godejohn observed seven (7)

horses that needed foot care, four (4) horses that needed dental care, and another horse that

needed medical care for an open wound. The stalls were extremely dirty with fecal material and

needed to be cleaned. ACO Godejohn provided a hand written notice to Rapuano to provide foot

care to seven horses, to provide dental care to four horses, and to have a licensed veterinarian

examine the thirteen thin horses and the one horse that required medical attention.

37. On or about January 8, 2009, ACO Godejohn received a complaint from a woman

boarding a horse with Rapuano. The complainant stated that the horse had lost weight and had

hoof problems from standing in mud.

38. On or about January 9, 2009, ACO Godejohn spoke with Rapuano by telephone

to discuss the care of the horses at the property. Upon information and belief, a licensed

veterinarian had not yet examined the fourteen horses, as requested by ACO Godejohn on

November 12, 2008.

39. On or about January 22, 2009, ACOs Godejohn and State ACO Nancy Jarvis

inspected the property and met a veterinarian, a Dr. Ned Shankman, at the property.

40. On or about January 22, 2009, Dr. Shankman found that numerous horses needed

to have their teeth “floated” and that this could contribute to the horses being underweight. Dr.

Shankman did not float the horses’ teeth at that time. Dr. Shankman did not find any medical

reason that the horses on the property should be so overly thin.

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41. On or about January 22, 2009, Dr. Shankman gave Rapuano oral advice on what

to feed the horses kept on her property and how much to feed them. Dr. Shankman stated that

Rapuano must have hay in front of the horses at all times.

42. On or about July 8, 2009, ACOs Godejohn and Gregan inspected the property.

During the inspection, the equine were all “weight-taped.” Ten (10) of the horses had lost more

weight since the inspection on November 12, 2008. The stalls were extremely dirty with fecal

material and needed to be cleaned. ACO Godejohn verbally informed Rapuano to provide hay to

the equine at the property at all times and to increase the amount of grain provided to the equines

at the property.

43. On or about December 7, 2009, ACO Godejohn and ACO Gregan inspected the

property and observed approximately nineteen (19) horses and three (3) mules at the property.

None of the equines had any hay available for them to eat. ACO Godejohn observed that

eighteen (18) equine were underweight. ACO Godejohn observed that seven (7) of the horses

were significantly underweight and ACO Godejohn was concerned about the health and well-

being of these horses because of their lack of body fat. Of these seven horses, five (5) had lost

more weight since the inspection on July 8, 2009.

44. On or about December 7, 2009, ACO Godejohn observed that the stalls in which

the equine resided were filthy and the equine were standing in feces and urine approximately six

inches deep. ACO Godejohn observed that eight (8) of the horses had either cracked hooves,

“hoof rings,” or the hooves needed to be trimmed.

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45. On or about December 9, 2009, ACO Godejohn inspected the property in

response to a phone call to ACO Godejohn from Rapuano. ACO Godejohn observed that the

equine had no hay available to eat upon her arrival.

46. On or about December 9, 2009, ACO Godejohn observed the equine in filthy

stalls. Approximately half of the equine were standing up to their ankles in stalls that were filled

with feces, urine, and mud.

47. Upon information and belief, Rapuano was hospitalized at the time of the

December 9, 2009 inspection.

48. Upon information and belief, Rapuano was still hospitalized on December 11,

2009, and the Department was not aware of when Rapuano would return to the property.

49. On or about December 11, 2009, the Department received a complaint stating that

there was no hay at the property for the equine to eat. In response to the complaint, State

Animal Control Officer Todd Curry inspected the property on or about December 11, 2009 and

observed that there was only one-half of a bale of hay on the property, that there was no hay at

all that was actually available for the equine to eat, and that the equine also had no water to

drink. The horses were thirsty and hungry and readily drank water and ate food when provided

with water and food by the Department.

50. On or about December 11, 2009, the stalls at the property housing the equine were

filthy, and some of the equine stood in excrement and mud up to approximately two feet deep.

A goat on the property was locked in a dog crate filled with at least one inch of feces and the

goat had no food or water. Two rabbits located outside on the property had no food or water and

no rabbit food was observed on the property. Three (3) dogs that were observed at the property

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had no food or water and no dog food was observed on the property. The ferrets on the property

had no food or water. The birds on the property had no food or water.

51. The December 11, 2009 complainant referenced in paragraph number 49 donated

hay (approximately 100 bales) and grain (approximately 5 bags) to feed the equine on the

property.

52. On December 16, 2009, the day of the seizure by the Department, ACO Godejohn

observed that a few of the equine had hay to eat, but the majority of the equine on the property

had no food to eat.

53. On December 16, 2009, a state animal control officer observed that the only

access the equine had to water was water that was dirty.

54. On December 16, 2009, the equine at the property were hungry and thirsty and

readily ate and drank food and fresh water provided to them by the Department.

55. On December 16, 2009, ACO Godejohn observed the equine in filthy stalls. The

equine were standing, from between their ankles up to their knees, in stalls that were filled with

feces, urine, and mud.

56. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed that one of the equine had no

“frog” left in its hoof from standing in its filthy environment.

57. On December 16, 2009, ACO Godejohn observed that several of the equine had a

“rain-rot” or fungus on their skin that had led to loss of hair and scabs.

58. On December 16, 2009, ACO Godejohn observed that the barn and stalls in which

the equine were housed was infested with rats and rats freely roamed the stalls in the area of the

equine.

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59. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed two guinea pigs on the property

that had no food or water, were in a filthy cage filled with feces and urine, and were lethargic.

The guinea pigs at the property were hungry and thirsty and readily ate food and drank water

provided to them by the Department.

60. On December 16, 2009, ACO Godejohn observed that a bag of guinea pig food

that had been provided to Rapuano by Godejohn on December 7, 2009, remained un-opened at

the property.

61. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed two doves on the property that

had no food or water and were in a filthy cage filled with excrement. The doves at the property

were thirsty and readily drank water provided to them by the Department.

62. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed two rabbits on the property that

had no food or water and were in a dirty cage. One of the rabbits was visibly lethargic. The

rabbits on the property were thirsty and readily drank water provided to them by the Department.

63. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed a parakeet on the property that

had food and water mixed with excrement and was in a dirty cage.

64. On December 16, 2009, ACO Godejohn and Gregan observed one goat on the

property. The goat was able to freely roam the property outside and also inside, into Rapuano’s

home. The goat only had access to stray hay and puddles to drink.

65. On December 16, 2009, state Animal Control Officers observed that Rapuano’s

home was filthy with dirt, rat feces and general debris and garbage. A rat was observed in

Rapuano’s bedroom and the goat referenced in paragraph 64 was seen on Rapuano’s bed.

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66. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed four dogs on the property. The

dogs were covered in fleas and flea droppings.

67. One of the dogs owned by Rapuano, a mixed breed lab puppy has died since the

seizure on December 16, 2009. This dog has been sent to the University of Connecticut for a

necropsy to determine cause of death; results are pending.

68. On December 16, 2009, ACO Gregan observed two ferrets on the property.

69. Based on the above facts, the animals at the property appear to be/have been,

neglected and/or cruelly treated in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-247.

70. Based on the above facts, there was reasonable cause to find that the animals’

condition and circumstances surrounding their care required the Department to immediately take

lawful charge of these animals to safeguard their welfare.

71. Based on the above facts, the animals should remain in the physical custody of the

Department of Agriculture.

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WHEREFORE, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a the plaintiff requests:

1. That the Court issue an order to the owner(s) of the animals that were seized, and

those that were born after the seizure of their mother (if any), to show cause why the court shall

not vest in the Connecticut Department of Agriculture the temporary care and custody of the

animals (pending an ownership hearing on the petition) pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-

329a(d). In the alternative, plaintiff requests that the Court issue an order vesting in the

Connecticut Department of Agriculture the temporary care and custody of the animals that were

seized, and those that were born after the seizure of their mother (if any), pending an ownership

hearing on the petition. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a(d), a hearing on temporary care

and custody shall be held not later than fourteen (14) days after issuance of an order to show

cause or an order vesting temporary care and custody to the Department of Agriculture.

2. That upon ordering the animals to the temporary care and custody of the

Department of Agriculture, that the Court issue an order requiring the owner(s) of the animals

that were seized, and those that were born after the seizure of their mother (if any), to either

relinquish ownership of the animals to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, or post a

surety or cash bond with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture in the amount of five

hundred dollars ($500) per animal for the reasonable expenses in caring and providing for such

horses pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a(f).

3. That the Court issue an order pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a that the

animals owned by their respective owners were neglected and/or were cruelly treated in violation

of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-247.

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4. That the Court vest permanent ownership and custody of the surviving animals

with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a(g) and if

necessary, order the humane destruction of any of the animal(s) if such animal(s) is so injured or

diseased that it should be destroyed.

5. That, if the Court makes a finding under subdivision (1) or (2) of Conn. Gen. Stat.

§ 22-329a(g) less than thirty days after issuance of an order of temporary care and custody and

the owner of the animals has posted the statutory bond pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-

329a(g), the Court order the owners to pay the Connecticut Department of Agriculture an amount

of twenty-five (25) dollars per day, per equine, and fifteen (15) dollars per day per other animal,

for the number of days less than thirty that the Department did not have temporary care and

custody of the animals less any veterinary costs and expenses incurred for the welfare of the

animals.

6. That, pursuant to Gen. Stat. § 22-329a(h), if the Court finds that the animals are

neglected or are cruelly treated, the Court order the owners to pay the Connecticut Department of

Agriculture the expenses incurred in providing proper food, shelter and care to each animal it has

taken custody of under subsection (a) or (b) of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-329a and the expenses

incurred in providing temporary care and custody pursuant to an order vesting temporary care

and custody, calculated at the rate of twenty-five (25) dollars per day, per equine, and fifteen

(15) dollars a day for each other animal, until the date that ownership of the animals are vested in

the State and also all veterinary costs and expenses incurred for the welfare of the animals that

are not covered in the per diem rate.

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7. That the Court order such other and additional relief as is just and equitable to

effectuate the purposes of this action.

This action is brought by the State of Connecticut and therefore, it is not liable for any

costs in this action.

Dated at Hartford, Connecticut this 23rd day of December, 2009.

PLAINTIFF
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
RAYMOND CONNORS
EX REL, STATE ANIMAL CONTROL
OFFICER

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

BY: _________________________________
Gail Shane
Assistant Attorney General
Juris No. 416497
55 Elm Street
P.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
Tel. (860) 808-5250

Please enter the appearance of


RICHARD BLUMENTHAL,
ATTORNEY GENERAL,
By Gail Shane, Assistant Attorney General
_________________________________
Gail Shane
Juris Number 416497
Assistant Attorney General
Commissioner of the Superior Court

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VERIFICATION

STATE OF CONNECTICUT )
) ss. Hartford
COUNTY OF HARTFORD )

Personally appeared Barbara Godejohn, State of Connecticut, Animal Control Officer,

the subscriber, and made oath to the truth of the matters contained in the aforesaid complaint.

________________________________
Barbara Godejohn

Sworn and subscribed to before me on this 23rd day of December, 2009.

_________________________________
Commissioner of the Superior Court

STATE OF CONNECTICUT )
) ss. Hartford
COUNTY OF HARTFORD )

Personally appeared Richard Gregan, State of Connecticut, Animal Control Officer, the

subscriber, and made oath to the truth of the matters contained in the aforesaid complaint.

________________________________
Richard Gregan

Sworn and subscribed to before me on this 22nd day of December, 2009.

_________________________________
Commissioner of the Superior Court

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