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Westwood man accused of giving drugs to his capuchin monkey

Attorney: ‘There’s no basis for it’
Neo the capuchin monkey that was allegedly given amphetamines
Posted at 2:26 PM, Mar 12, 2022

CINCINNATI — A man has been indicted for one count of cruel treatment of animals after he allegedly gave his pet monkey amphetamines.

Adam Kordes, 34, was arrested March 4 after an investigation by Hamilton County’s dog warden led to the seizure of a 6-month-old monkey named Neo on Feb. 7.

Kordes, through his attorney, denies the allegations and is trying to get the monkey back. Attorney Lisa Rabanus said the case is the result of a flawed investigation by Cincinnati Animal Care, which handles animal cruelty complaints under its contract with Hamilton County.

Rabanus claims the nonprofit’s dog-warden staff improperly confiscated Neo and used the wrong Ohio statute to charge Kordes with a felony and two misdemeanors. Instead of using a statute that applies to wild animals, deputy dog wardens charged Kordes under a companion animal law that applies to dogs and cats.

“They charged him three different ways for the same incident and all of them were wrong,” Rabanus said. “The capuchin monkey is a wild animal. Under that, the worst charge he could face is a misdemeanor-2 for cruelty … that’s basic law enforcement and they can’t even get that right.”

Cincinnati Animal Care declined to comment. The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office announced the cruelty indictment on Monday, May 9.

Rabanus said she is considering a lawsuit on behalf of Kordes, who spent four days in jail following his arrest and is anxious to see Neo again.

“He’s been without this monkey for over a month and there’s no basis for it,” Rabanus said.

But that’s not how they see it at Misfitland in Clermont County.

“That monkey clearly, clearly beyond any doubt, needed help,” said Teresa Bullock, who owns the roughly 300-acre farm that bills itself as a “forever home” to domesticated primates.

Bullock said Kordes contacted her in early February because Neo was sick. Bullock said she was concerned about that because Kordes previously owned another monkey, named Moe, who died in his care. So, when Bullock responded to Kordes’ Boudinot Ave. apartment on Feb. 6, she had a Florida veterinarian on WhatsApp witnessing the visit.

“The monkey went into this fit, where its arms straightened out, its legs straightened out,” Bullock said. “To me, it was (in) pain.”

Three days later, Deputy Dog Warden Christian Davis filed an affidavit in support of a search warrant to seize the animal for cruelty/neglect.

“Deputies received a call from Doctor Jodie Thannum, stating that Adam Kordes was harboring a capuchin monkey that was being given narcotics, such as adult amounts of Xanax and or cocaine,” Davis wrote.

On Feb. 25, Deputy Dog Warden Travis Milem filed an affidavit in support of a first-degree misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. The affidavit said a “urine drug screening kit” showed Kordes provided “his capuchin monkey with amphetamines.” A fifth-degree felony charge was filed against Kordes on March 4. Deputy Davis alleged Kordes caused “serious physical harm” by supplying Neo with amphetamines, citing as evidence a blood toxicology report from Michigan State University.

Court records show the felony charge was ignored by a Hamilton County grand jury Friday, but Kordes was previously indicted on a misdemeanor count of having weapons under a disability in connection to the investigation of his monkey.

Rabanus said Kordes shot video on Feb. 7 – the day the animal was confiscated – showing Neo was active and healthy. If the case proceeds with new cruelty charges, Rabanus plans to challenge the blood and urine tests based on when the samples were taken and whether deputies can prove the amphetamines came from Kordes.

Although he was cleared of the felony cruelty charge, Kordes was indicted on a third-degree felony charge of having a weapon under disability.

When Cincinnati police arrested Kordes on the animal cruelty charge, they found a 12-gauge shotgun in his apartment, according to court records. He’s not allowed to have such a weapon because he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in a 2017 court case in which he was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide after an auto accident that left his passenger dead and Kordes with head injuries.

Rabanus hopes to get the weapon charge dismissed by challenging the original search warrant that led to Neo’s confiscation and Kordes’ arrest. She said the gun belonged to Kordes’ father and Kordes didn’t know it was there until police found it.