San Diego

National City Treasurer Facing Animal Cruelty Charges for Trapping, Drowning Rodents

Beauchamp is in charge of the receipts and safekeeping of all money coming into the city, but what he told NBC 7 he did with skunks, opossums, and raccoons in his yard is accounting that his neighbors just can't factor.

National City Treasurer Mitch Beauchamp faces animal cruelty charges for allegedly capturing and killing pests on his property.

The District Attorney filed a complaint Monday charging Beauchamp with six criminal misdemeanor counts including animal cruelty, unlawful harassment and trapping of animals.

If convicted, Beauchamp could spend up to a year behind bars.

On the advice of his attorney, Beauchamp spoke to us only off camera and asked his face not be shown.

He showed NBC 7 how he uses a live trap to capture nuisance animals on his property, but the city treasurer says it's what he did with them afterward that got him into trouble.

He drowned them. 

"It is pretty frightening to be living next to somebody that thinks this is OK," neighbor Stephanie Norton said.

Norton was questioned by Animal Control after Beauchamp called them to pick up two dead skunks.

An autopsy revealed they drowned, Beauchamp confirmed to NBC 7.

Neighbors on both sides condemn the practice.

"It is pretty terrifying. Animals don't make nice noises when they are trying to get out and save themselves so the smell was horrifying," neighbor Stephanie Norton said.

"It's sad to be cruel to animals. We're animal lovers so to us that is cruel," neighbor Marie DaCosta said.

"Supposedly, city workers should know the laws," she said.

After repeated questioning by NBC 7, Beauchamp admitted he captured and drowned those animals, but argued his method is no crueler than what the state allows.

State laws allow local government employees -- who are licensed to do so-- to capture nuisance animals and exterminate them immediately by only two methods: shooting or chemical euthanasia.

The city treasurer said his attorney is currently working on a settlement to the case and expects an agreement to be reached very soon.

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