Crime & Courts

McHenry man accused of animal cruelty says charges are political

Mike Braun of McHenry leaves the McHenry County Courthouse after a hearing on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges Dec. 7.
Mike Braun of McHenry leaves the McHenry County Courthouse after a hearing on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges Dec. 7.

A man accused of beating his dog said the charges stem from nothing more than an attack on his character for being a proud supporter of President Donald Trump.

In handwritten court filings entered Wednesday, Michael Braun asked a judge to “dismiss the false charges” filed against him by “the corrupt city of McHenry.”

Court records detail Braun’s allegations that he was targeted by an anti-Trump Facebook group that reported what he called false reports of animal abuse.

Braun was charged in April 2017 with cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct after a woman reported seeing him beat a white German shepherd with a garbage can lid. He said the woman failed to report a “200-pound brindle mastiff that just happened to have the white German shepherd’s head in its mouth.”

“The proof of her false statement is exasperated by the statement that [she] claimed ‘a man with tattoos on one arm,’ when in fact Mike Braun has tattoos on both arms, chest, back and right leg, and there was nobody else present with any other tattoos,” Braun wrote.

There are plenty of details Braun said the woman didn’t report because she was never there.

“This woman ... is in fact the only person who called the police,” Braun wrote. “Most likely it wasn’t even her who drove by, but instead someone else affiliated with a McHenry Facebook group that regularly made false calls on Mike Braun ... simply because there was a President Trump support flag [on his property] since the beginning of the election.”

This isn’t the first time Braun has gone up against animal cruelty claims. In the past 15 years, McHenry County Animal Control has issued Braun 36 citations or tickets for violations such as letting his dogs run at large. Most recently, he was sentenced to one year of probation and anger counseling for a 2013 conviction of the same offense, court records show.

The case was set to go to trial Monday, but as of Friday afternoon, Braun didn’t have an attorney to represent him. Robert Hanlon, the attorney who previously worked on Braun’s defense, withdrew himself from the case last month.

A lack of representation didn’t stop Braun, who wrote in his handwritten motion that a Dec. 24 Northwest Herald story has diminished his chance of a fair trial in McHenry County. The story covered Braun’s run-ins with McHenry police at length.

“This is nothing more than another anti-Trump Facebook group who has made other false reports, sometimes five to six people calling at the same time to try to make it look real, when really nobody is there,” Braun wrote.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

The case will continue June 13.

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