Andrew Dys

Disabled York County veteran, 83, was jailed for junk; now he, wife face jail again

Johnny Ramsey of Clover, a disabled Korean War veteran, was York County’s oldest county jail inmate in 2012 at 79 after he had too much junk in his yard. Now 83, he again faces jail time.

This time, it could be his disabled wife serving with him,.

The Ramseys face jail if they don’t pay a $1,410 fine for three dog violations.

In a bench trial Thursday, county magistrate judge Melvin Howell found Ramsey guilty of violating animal restraint, rabies and treatment laws. York County animal control officers alleged multiple violations for the eight dogs owned by Ramsey and his disabled wife, Patty.

“I got two choices: Pay fourteen hundred and ten dollars, or go back to jail,” Ramsey said. “I got $22 in my pocket. Where am I gonna find the money? I been to jail before. Spent a weekend there for too much junk. I don’t know what they got against me.”

Ramsey spent a weekend in jail in 2012, after violating the town of Clover’s laws against junk and not paying a fine levied by the same judge.

Ramsey used to sell junk to pay for his wife’s medications. He had the chance to pay the fine, court testimony showed in 2012, but he refused, and when he tried to pay it at the end, it was too late.

Coverage in The Herald of Ramsey’s trial for junk, and his jailing for a weekend at age 79, sparked outrage nationwide, and as far as the Daily Mail of England. People sent money for his fine from as far as California.

“I even had a lady call from Venezuela in South America who was mad I got sent to jail,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey spent the 2012 weekend in jail, and the rest of his 30-day sentence was suspended.

Now, he is looking at as much as 90 days in the hoosegow for violations relating to his eight dogs.

York County handles animal control laws for the town of Clover, officials said. Ramsey was cited in February by York County Animal Control officers for violations.

In a statement, York County spokesperson Trish Startup said: “Following up on a prior citation for improper restraint, York County Animal Control found the owner to be in violation of improper restraint, inadequate shelter, and lack of rabies vaccinations for five dogs. Animal Control allowed the owner some time to correct these violations, but upon return found these items had not been addressed and issued citations for disposition in magistrate court.”

Ramsey and his wife, Patty, said they fixed the problems. They have receipts for eight rabies shots at a vet that cost $11 each, and they built fencing and added tethering lines to keep the dogs leashed.

They say they have worked to keep the dogs safe and legal.

“We fixed what was wrong,” Patty Ramsey said. “Here I am on disability, and Johnny is 83 years old and a disabled war veteran, and they just won’t leave us alone.”

At the trial Thursday, Johnny Ramsey was found in violation. Each violation is $470, or a total of $1,410 for three.

Howell, the magistrate judge, said Tuesday he could not comment on specifics. But he did say in general: “The laws are the laws. I have to follow the law.”

Howell had said the same thing after giving Ramsey repeated chances in 2012 to pay a fine and avoid jail.

The Ramseys have a year from Thursday - March 23, 2018 - to pay the fime.

“We had to sign a paper that said we would pay it or go to jail...” Patty Ramsey said. “That amount is ridiculous... We have done everything we are supposed to do”

Johnny Ramsey lives in a mobile home on a cul-de-sac in Clover, where he has been for 23 years. He takes medications every day for his disability after being wounded in Korea. His life afterward included a stretch with the Ku Klux Klan that he later said was wrong.

“These dogs ain’t hurtin’ nobody,” Ramsey said. “They said I didn’t have my dogs right, but now they are right.”

But a court disagrees. And in a year, if he and his wife don’t pay the fine, one or both will have a trip to make.

“They are gonna take us to jail,” Johnny Ramsey said.