Embezzling cases & pit bull attack deaths both reflect crap game culture
SYRACUSE (NY), DAYTON (OH), COLUMBIA (MD)––The U.S. animal care-and-control community has an untreated gambling problem, getting worse instead of better.
In the first half of the 20th century, when humane education was closely linked to moral education, no major humane conference would even have been attempted anywhere that promoted gambling.
Even in the depths of the Great Depression, no reputable humane society would have tried to raise funds by running a card room, a casino, slot machines, or even a bingo game.
Humane conferences held in gambling venues
In the early 21st century, however, with “humane education” long ago watered down to just dog and cat care, and “moral education” forgotten as a humane ambition, major humane conferences are rarely held far from legal gambling, in venues such as Las Vegas, Reno, New Orleans, Nashville, and Orlando. Many humane conferences are actually held in gambling establishments
(See also “We face a humane education crisis!” says HSUS historian Unti.)
Fundraising affiliations with gambling are so common that executive director candidates are often asked about their experience on the managerial side of gaming.
Perhaps not just coincidentally, the culture of animal care-and-control work in recent years has come to celebrate as a virtue taking a chance on rehoming dangerous dogs, or leaving them in their homes after they attack other animals and people––in effect gambling with others’ lives.
Gamblers embezzled $1 million
The animal care-and-control community addiction to gambling in the obvious, literal sense was spotlighted by the September 13, 2018 parole from prison of former Central New York SPCA director Paul Morgan.
This was less than two years after Morgan was sentenced to serve from four to 12 years “for orchestrating thefts totaling more than $1 million” from the Central New York SPCA, reported Douglass Dowty of the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Morgan allegedly took between $475,000 and $600,000 himself, helping three employees to take almost $500,000 more.
The money is believed to have been spent mostly “on gambling and trips to places like Las Vegas and New Orleans,” according to wire service coverage of the case.
Four SPCA staffers took money
Recalled Dowty, “Morgan, 47, went to prison in January 2017 when he pleaded guilty to grand larceny and criminal tax fraud. If he stays out of trouble, Morgan will remain free on parole until 2029,” Dowty said, “when his maximum sentence expires. Morgan’s primary sidekick, Taylor Gilkey, who is serving a two- to six-year sentence, remains in,” although she is apparently also eligible for parole soon.
Elaborated Dowty, “Morgan wrote 132 checks to himself as executive director, from 2010 to 2016, prosecutor Michael Kasmarek said during Morgan’s trial. Morgan also admitted writing improper checks to two co-workers, Gilkey and Nicole Cafarchio. He pleaded guilty to two extra counts of grand larceny for that.
“Gilkey cashed checks worth $249,635.37 and Cafarchio,” who was sentenced only to probation, “cashed checks worth $62,270. Both women pleaded guilty to their part in the scheme. A fourth person — Theresa Para — was also convicted of stealing money,” Dowty wrote. “Para recently paid back $20,000 of the more than $145,000 she stole.”
Among the more outspoken foes of gambling at early 20th century humane conferences was, ironically, Central New York SPCA founder O. Robinson “Bob” Casey (1859-1936), shelter superintendent from 1891 until his death.
For ten years a professional baseball player, who played nine games in the major leagues for Detroit in 1882, Casey was widely believed in his own time to have been perhaps the original Casey of the 1888 Ernest Thayer poem “Casey At the Bat.”
Fought gambling & “Doggie Millers”
From his personal experience in a time when gambling on ballgames was flagrant, prominent, and eventually led to the expulsion of eight Chicago White Sox stars from the organized professional leagues for allegedly conspiring to “fix” the 1919 World Series, Casey emphasized how gambling tends to corrupt whatever it touches.
Casey also vehemently denounced “Doggie Millers,” who like fellow former pro baseball player turned dog breeder Doggie Miller bred excessive numbers of dogs in miserable conditions. After Casey died on the job, on a cold late November afternoon while investigating an alleged case of horse neglect, the term “Doggie Miller” metamorphosed into the term “puppy miller” still widely used today.
The Morgan case reminded observers more of the May 2014 embezzling conviction of former Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter director Lowanda “Peanut” Kilby.
Kilby was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by 10 years on probation, for 29 counts of theft, plus a violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act.
Wrote Blake Spurney of the Clayton Tribune, “A special condition of her probation prohibits her from entering a casino. Kilby set up PayPal accounts that deposited more than $10,000 into personal accounts,” summarized Spurney of earlier trial testimony, “and she gambled more than $250,000 between 2010 and July 2012,” when the funding diversions were exposed by a fellow Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter worker.
Kilby had been lauded for supposedly leading the Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter to a 90%-plus “live release rate” through a scheme by which, “if a donor paid at least $100, that would guarantee a dog or cat would not be euthanized. Instead, the dogs or cats were secretly euthanized anyway,” reported Randy Travis of Fox 5 television news in Atlanta.
Gambled on the dog who killed her
Institutional gambling on dog behavior meanwhile was spotlighted by the September 6, 2018 fatal mauling of Columbia, Maryland resident Robin Conway by a pit bull she was fostering.
Reported Meredith Cohn of the Baltimore Sun, “Conway had been in contact with a West Virginia rescue group for some time about the all-white male pit bull initially named Snowball that she eventually brought home,” two weeks before her death.
A Conway neighbor, Sylvia Ramsey, told Cohn that Conway “had another pit bull named Remington,” adding, “I’m sure the rescue group felt sure she could work with any dog based on all her years with other people’s dogs and her own.”
Circumstantial evidence suggests that Snowball came from the Logan County animal shelter in West Virginia, though no background pertaining to the pit bull has been officially disclosed, including bite history. But presumably there was a reason why Snowball was impounded or surrendered to the shelter from which he came, whatever shelter it was, and was slated for euthanasia as recently as August 20, 2018.
Snowball was euthanized after killing Conway.
Margaret M. Colvin
Had Snowball come from Virginia instead of West Virginia, none of this would have been a mystery.
Virginia Beach resident Margaret M. Colvin, 90, was in June 2017 killed by a pit bull named Blue who had a multi-state history of previous attacks, and had been transferred through the custody of at least five shelters and rescues.
Colvin’s daughter had adopted Blue only hours before he mauled Colvin.
In response, the Virginia legislature passed a bill, SB 571, now in effect, which requires that animal shelters must investigate the bite histories of impounded or owner-surrendered dogs, and that the findings must be disclosed to prospective adopters.
This is the first state law in the U.S. to require mandatory disclosure of bite history.
(See also Virginia bars shelters & rescues from hiding dogs’ bite history and How multi-state effort to save the pit bull Blue led to Code Blue for Margaret Colvin.)
Mark Kumpf & destruction of evidence
Institutional gambling on dogs, and on getting away with losing bets, was also spotlighted by Dayton Daily News coverage of the scheduled March 2019 jury trial of a lawsuit against Montgomery County, Ohio and county dog warden Mark Kumpf.
The case was filed by survivors of Klonda Richey, 57, killed in February 2014 by two dogs variously identified in court documents as “large-breed pit bulls, mastiffs, or cane corsos.”
Dayton Daily News staff writer Chris Stewart on September 19, 2018 disclosed that “Documents filed [on August 28, 2018] in a civil lawsuit from a 2014 dog-mauling death allege the destruction of potential key evidence and include as a claim by the defendants that Richey’s fatal injuries ‘were the result of teasing and/or tormenting the animals which attacked the decedent.’”
Owners made similar claim, but copped plea
Dog owners Andrew Nason and Julie Custer initially made a similar claim, but eventually accepted a plea bargain of related charges, and in 2015 “were found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs,” Stewart wrote. “Both spent months in jail.”
Richey “made approximately 13 calls to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center and at least 11 calls to the Animal Resource Center” seeking protection from the dogs who killed her in the months before her death,” Stewart summarized. “Richey was so scared of the dogs that she installed a fence between the two houses, put up a security camera to monitor when the dogs were off leash, and sought a civil protection order against Nason, which was denied.”
County bets $165,000 on Kumpf
Gambling that the case is defensible, “Montgomery County commissioners have approved spending at least $165,000 since September 2015 for the services of attorney Michael W. Sandner,” continued Stewart.
An updated edition of the complaint against Kumpf and the Animal Resource Center, Stewart said, alleges that Montgomery County “willfully and with malicious purpose destroyed highly relevant public records with intent to disrupt plaintiff’s existing lawsuit against defendant Mark Kumpf.”
Wrote Stewart, “More than two years before the records were destroyed, the plaintiff’s counsel warned the Animal Resource Center on or around March 31, 2015, to preserve documents and records and ‘refrain from destroying all potentially discoverable information’ that could be related to Richey’s death.”
Charges finally filed in Maurice Brown death
The case pertaining to the death of Klonda Richey is moving toward trial parallel to charges against Anthony Austin, 28, of Dayton, whose pit bull on April 25, 2017 killed neighbor Maurice Brown, 60.
Austin on September 10, 2018 pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to control a dog, filed 16 months after the attack and after extensive publicity about the failure of law enforcement to bring charges.
Earlier, reported Dayton Daily News staff writers Cornelius Frolik and Mark Gokavi, “Dayton police lieutenant Kimberly Hill, who used to oversee the department’s Professional Standards Bureau, was disciplined for not submitting internal investigations in time for consideration of discipline for the responding police officers.
“A commander’s review of a related investigation of the dog-mauling case said officers Daniel Hartings and Scott Pendley ‘failed to render immediate assistance and/or first aid.’ Hartings retired in 2017.”
Morgan didn’t gamble on pit bull
Ironically, Paul Morgan, though convicted of gambling-related offenses, in February 2014 opted not to gamble either on pit bull behavior or getting away with negligence, after a pit bull who was impounded in a neglect case facially injured a Central New York SPCA staff member during a morning walk.
Morgan had the pit bull euthanized.
Pit bull owner Melani Freeman in April 2014 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cruelty for having left the pit bull chained to a pole in the attic of her former rented home.