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Miss Harper animal cruelty case convict is a no-show

Miss Harper, a 7-month-old pit bull whose ears

Miss Harper, a 7-month-old pit bull whose ears and hind right leg were cut off in an act of animal cruelty, is seen at a news conference in Huntington on Jan. 31, 2014. Credit: Brittany Wait

An arrest warrant was issued Monday for a man who failed twice to show for sentencing after pleading guilty in the case of Miss Harper, a dog whose leg and ears were cut off by a veterinary office worker.

Lee Hughes, 42, said he was tied up in traffic and could not make the sentencing at 10 a.m. Monday, said his attorney, Eliot Bloom of Williston Park.

At about 11:45 a.m., state Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti in Mineola issued an arrest warrant.

On June 20, Hughes was supposed to get 6 months in jail on three animal cruelty felonies, but suddenly went to a hospital that morning and sent a doctor’s note to the judge, Bloom said.

Bloom said he did not know where his client was tied up in traffic. “I think he was visiting relatives over the weekend and got stuck in traffic,” the attorney said. “I don’t think the last time or today was deliberately trying to evade the sentencing.”

Hughes, whose last known address was Westbury, and his estranged wife, Shawanna Hughes of Oyster Bay, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine and one of aggravated animal cruelty.

Miss Harper, a pit bull mix, was a puppy when they took her in 2013 to a veterinary office worker, Reginald Smith, instead of a licensed veterinarian. She had a leg and her ears cut off, and despite exposed tissue and bone on her leg, the couple did not get her medical care.

Miss Harper had been adopted out to a family, but was taken back by the former head of the SPCA, Robert Sowers, because the family was not consistent in its training of the dog, he said. She is in good condition but had to have the rest of her leg amputated by a veterinarian.

Smith also pleaded guilty in the case, but got 3 years of conditional discharge and no jail time.

Lee has 30 days to surrender, Bloom said. Delligatti now has the power to set aside the six-month term under Hughes’ plea bargain and give him a tougher sentence.

Shawanna Hughes’ sentencing is set for Aug. 3. The couple had been previously sentenced for animal cruelty in the case of another dog they owned.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the time the judge issued the arrest warrant. It was at 11:45 a.m.

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