EXCLUSIVE: A judge in Edgewater is hoping that Livia Prochnow’s beloved Canada geese will no longer feast on her illegally provided meals after he put the 63-year-old North Bergen woman behind bars for a long weekend.
Prochnow has fought Edgewater officials for years over her insistence on feeding the flying fowl, which violates a municipal ordinance.
She even took her case to a high court in New Jersey — and lost. The Appellate Division ordered her to pay fines and costs in 2009.
But authorities said that Prochnow never made good.
After giving her what he said was more than adequate time, Municipal Judge Robert J. Cohan last week ordered the 4-foot-8-inch grandmother jailed for failing to pay fines, fees and interest that have risen to a combined $4,078.
Prochnow remained in the Bergen County Jail beginning Thursday, when Edgewater police arrested her on the judge’s orders, until she was released yesterday after beginning to make payments.
The first time she got in trouble, Prochnow was feeding corn kernels to more than a dozen geese on the Edgewater River Walk in May 2008.
David Raindorf, a resident who lives nearby, came out of his townhouse and asked her to stop. Police said she refused.
Raindorf was upset about the frequent presence of geese “massing next to [his] house,” he later told them.
The next summons was issued a month later by Helen Ciccarelli, an Edgewater code official who happened to be riding her bicycle along the walk when, she said, she saw Prochnow surrounded by more than 25 geese.
Prochnow was feeding them “greenish-yellowish seeds from her pocket,” Ciccarelli said.
Prochnow said she’s been visiting the geese for more than 20 years and has become acquainted with three generations of regulars. The geese recognize her and gather around, Prochnow says, insisting that she doesn’t feed them.
Following separate trials, a local judge convicted Prochnow of twice violating the Edgewater ordinance that prohibits feeding wild animals. A state judge in Hackensack agreed, and Prochnow went to the Appellate Division.
The appeals justices not only agreed with their local brethren — they branded Prochnow a “repeat offender” who must be stopped.
Although she argued that the fines were excessive, the Appellate Division said she’d already warned and summonsed without success.
“Considering the need to deter a repeat offender, we conclude that the sentence does not shock the judicial conscience,” they wrote in their 2009 opinion.
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