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Baltimore County farm, activists file dueling criminal complaints stemming from ongoing feud over stolen calf

An animal rights activist and a Baltimore County farmer have filed dueling criminal complaints against each other. Here, a calf stolen by a different activist is seen after it was returned to the farm in Baltimore County.
An animal rights activist and a Baltimore County farmer have filed dueling criminal complaints against each other. Here, a calf stolen by a different activist is seen after it was returned to the farm in Baltimore County. (Courtesy Photo / Braglio Farms)

Animal rights activists and the owner of a Baltimore County farm filed dueling criminal complaints over an alleged altercation stemming from an ongoing conflict over a stolen calf.

The owners of Braglio Farms allege in court filings that two animal rights activists from Virginia trespassed on their property, collecting information to use to “harass” the Braglio family. The activists, who own an animal sanctuary in Williamsburg, Virginia, claim that the farmers chased them off public property and damaged their vehicle in the process.

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The animal sanctuary and the farm gained notoriety in 2019 after a woman stole a cow from the farm and transported it to the animal sanctuary. That woman pleaded guilty in November and said in court that she took the cow because she believed it was “suffering in a bad way” at Braglio Farms. Since the calf was returned from the animal sanctuary to the farm in Baltimore County, activists have rallied online and protested to “Save Sophie,” the name that they gave the calf.

Baltimore County police said Monday that around 2 p.m. Saturday a call came in for a report of trespassing at the Randallstown farm. By the time police arrived, the incident had “moved offsite,” so police did not see any trespassing.

The farm owners alleged the activists were on their property, while the activists said they were on public property and that the farmers damaged their vehicle, a police spokesperson said.

In complaints against Ryan Phillips and Mallory Sherman, the activists from Virginia, farm owner Scott Braglio alleges the two drove around the farm in order to “gather information to harass” Braglio and his family and that the activists have staged protests nearby, threatened customers who do business with the Braglios and denigrated the business on social media.

Braglio says in one of the complaints that Braglio Farms has lost customers and that he and his family were “afraid for [his] life" because of the way the protests and social media campaigns have targeted him and his business.

In two criminal complaints — one in Baltimore County, one in Carroll County — brought against Crystal Smith, who is identified as Braglio’s girlfriend, Phillips alleges he and Sherman were driving on public property on Hernwood Road, near the farm, when Smith crossed the center lane to block their vehicle. Phillips said in his complaint they drove onto the lawn to avoid Smith and other employees of the farm, and that Smith kicked his vehicle “leaving a dent” as they drove away.

Smith followed Phillips and Sherman as they drove away, eventually stopping at a police station in Sykesville, in Carroll County, Phillips said in his complaint. Once there, Smith pulled a phone from Phillips’ hand while yelling and attempted to erase video, Phillips wrote.

Phillips also alleges in one of the complaints that Smith scratched his hand while she was grabbing the phone from him.

Both Braglio and Phillips declined to comment further.

Sykesville Police Chief Michael Spaulding confirmed an “altercation” did occur in the parking lot of the police department, and said police directed the parties involved to the court commissioner’s office if they wanted to pursue charges.

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