UConn Director of animal care services fined $400k in Boston defamation suit

The director of animal care services at the University of Connecticut, Curtis W. Schondelmeyer, is set to pay $400,000 in defamation fines by a Middlesex Superior Court jury. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

The director of animal care services at the University of Connecticut, Curtis W. Schondelmeyer, is set to pay $400,000 in defamation fines by a Middlesex Superior Court jury. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

The director of animal care services at the University of Connecticut, Curtis W. Schondelmeyer, is set to pay $400,000 in defamation fines by a Middlesex Superior Court jury after photographing a Lexington, Mass. police officer who gave Schondelmeyer a $40 ticket, according to the Boston Herald.

On May 1, 2014, Schondelmeyer snapped a picture of patrolman John Fissore, who was holding his phone on his ear while working a traffic detail. Schondelmeyer claimed he was not driving at the time he took the picture, but Fissore ticketed him for using a handheld device while operating a motor vehicle, the article reads.

The article says Schondelmeyer reported the image of the officer to the Lexington Police, and later appeared on a 2014 Fox Undercover Investigates report titled “Police Payback?” where he made false statements regarding where he was when he took the picture and claimed his ticket was retaliation for photographing the officer on his phone.

Scott Russian, Schondelmeyer’s husband, is also being fined $100,000 for lying about his whereabouts at the time of the incident. Russian said in a Massachusetts Fox 25 broadcast that he was driving the Range Rover at the time Schondelmeyer snapped the image. It was later discovered that Russian was in Boston, not Lexington, at the time of the incident, the Boston Herald reports.

Schondelmeyer was hired in May 2018 as the Attending Veterinarian/Director of Animal Care Services at Storrs and all regional campuses. He earned his post-doctorate in Laboratory Animal Medicine from the Emory University School of Medicine in 2007, according to his resume, which was posted on the UConn Research website (The article announcing his hiring has since been removed from the UConn Research website.)

Animal Care Services at the university could not be reached for comment.

University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said in an email that UConn is in the process of looking at the incident.

“The university is aware of the matter and is reviewing it,” Reitz said.


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.