Two months after being convicted of animal cruelty, new-wave pop icon Dale Bozzio feels trapped in her own personal witch trial. Then again, things could work out — celebrity jail time is a familiar theme for a reality-TV show. Even better is celebrity jail time in the New England equivalent of Mayberry. (View state photos used as evidence against Bozzio)
"The whole thing is like a freakin' set up to get me in the goddamn Ossipee [New Hampshire] jail," she said in an exclusive Phoenix interview, and went on to outline a small-town conspiracy involving crooked cops and lying witnesses who looked down on her as "an outsider."
Just days earlier, on Thursday, May 21, Bozzio — sporting a suit and short, gray hair — appeared a faded, somber version of her colorful former self while awaiting sentencing in the Ossipee courthouse.
It was a heart-rending day for the 54-year-old Missing Persons frontwoman, who was barred by the judge from keeping pets and sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 60 days deferred for two years.
Bozzio must also complete 250 hours of community service and pay a $2700 euthanization bill for the 12 cats found in "horrific" conditions in her Ossipee home last fall.
Her lawyer, Dennis O'Connor, argued that the tragedy resulted from negligence, not bad intentions.
"An artist like Dale lives in a different world," he said. "The little details of life that some of us, myself included, try to take care of, those end up on the back burner for artists like Dale."
He claimed that friends could attest to Bozzio's caring nature, including Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny" singer Tommy Heath, who called her "compassionate, honest, a loving parent, and a champion of animal rights" in a statement read to the court.
O'Connor then passed out copies of the April 24 Boston Phoenix article "Dale Bozzio's Life Is So Strange" to the judge and county prosecutor to "express concern about it" and all the media attention — though there were just two reporters (including me) in the courtroom.
Bozzio's attorney dismissed the idea that his client could be an animal hoarder, as suggested in the Phoenix piece, and Judge Robert Varney deemed a mental evaluation unnecessary.
The defendant's last-chance address to the judge suggested that the cat tragedy had taken its toll on Bozzio's nerves. She passionately recounted her lifelong history of "saving animals," including burying roadkill, rescuing cats while on tour, and removing a bumblebee from her kitchen that very morning. But she said she was willing to go to jail to take responsibility.
"I'm only here for the good of the world, and if you tell me to go and clean every cat's cage from here to China, I will. . . . I would lay down my life to save an animal, and I respect your time, and I'm sorry to make this into a circus for you," said the sobbing rocker. "I'm crumbling. . . . I beg of you to forgive me."
Calling from the Boston area on Monday, Bozzio — who has two teenage sons — described herself as a woman of strong beliefs: in God, art, family, green living, and helping animals.
She'll never accept the guilty verdict. Still, she said, "If I appeal, they'll give me 12 years. . . . I'm going to make them all mad, and then what?"
As of press time, Bozzio had not decided whether to challenge the sentencing. Should she go to jail, she plans to make the most of it — she's currently shopping a reality show to VH1 and calling Howard Stern in hopes of showing national audiences who she really is.
"Throw me in the water," declared Bozzio, "because I'm going to drown."