Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
Jason S. Miyares
202 North 9th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
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Owner of "Roadside Zoo" and Nephew Plead No Contest to Animal Cruelty Charges
~ Keith Wilson, owner of Wilson's Wild Animal Park, and his nephew Christian Dall'Acqua have both pled no contest to animal cruelty charges following an investigation by the OAG's Animal Law Unit ~
RICHMOND, VA – Keith Wilson and his nephew Christian Dall'Acqua pled no contest today in Frederick County Circuit Court to 27 and 19 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, respectively. This follows a 2019 investigation by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General's Animal Law Unit, where 119 exotic and agricultural animals were seized due to animal cruelty at Wilson's "roadside zoo” in Frederick County.
In Virginia, animal cruelty is a class one misdemeanor.
The animals included lions, tigers, bears, camels, goats, water buffalo, and more.
Keith Wilson was sentenced to 12 months with 12 months suspended on each count of animal cruelty, for a period of 5 years on the following conditions:
- Wilson will not work, own, possess, broker, buy, sell, trade, transfer, or barter any exotic animals, which includes non-human primates, birds, and reptiles, for five years.
- He will have no more than 125 agricultural animals and will practice good animal husbandry. Wilson is allowed one dog, and the Commonwealth will consider increasing the cap after one year if he maintains clean inspections and good animal husbandry.
- He will allow unannounced inspections by law enforcement, investigators, and a licensed Virginia veterinarian for a period of 5 years. There will be up to 5 inspections per year.
- Wilson agrees to waive his 4th Amendment rights to search and seizure for law enforcement or Animal Control to only inspect to ensure he is not owning any exotic animals and that he has no more than 125 agricultural animals and a dog.
- Wilson must also keep the peace and be of good behavior during that period.
Christian Dall'Acqua was sentenced to 12 months with 12 months suspended on each count of animal cruelty for a period of 5 years on the following conditions:
- Dall'Acqua will not work with, own, possess, broker, buy, sell, trade, transfer, or barter any exotic animals, which includes non-human primates, birds and reptiles for five years.
- Dall'Acqua agrees to waive his 4th Amendment rights to search and seizure for law enforcement or Animal Control to inspect to only ensure he is not owning any exotic animals.
- Dall'Acqua must also keep the peace and be of good behavior during that period.
- Dall'Acqua also agrees to waive any appeal rights pursuant to this plea agreement.
If Wilson or Dall'Acqua break any of the conditions of their agreement, they could respectively serve 27 or 19 years in prison.
The case was handled by Senior Assistant Attorney General K. Michelle Welch, head of Attorney General Miyares' Animal Law Unit, and Assistant Attorney General Kelci Block. The Office of the Attorney General would like to thank the Frederick Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, Spotsylvania Sheriff Office, Shenandoah Sheriff's Office, Powhatan Sheriff's Office, Caroline Sheriff's Office, Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce, Attorney General Miyares' Computer Crimes Unit, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Halifax Sheriff's Office, Dr. Ernesto Dominguez, Dr. Samantha Moffit, Dr. Tony Poutous, Dr. Mindy Babitz of the Bear Care Group, Darren Minier of the Oakland Zoo, The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Angels of Assisi and the Richmond SPCA for their help and assistance in this case and taking care of the seized animals.