OPPS -Humane Society of Northeast Texas…Were they caught in an illegal scam?!? -Not For Profit FRAUD!!!

http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/attorney-lawsuit-uncovers-questionable-finances-at-longview-animal-shelter/article_463e1a8f-b8e6-514e-90b6-3d2ce507c142.html#.UFIH9k-knSw.facebook

Attorney: Lawsuit uncovers questionable finances at Longview animal shelter

A year-long lawsuit delving into the finances of Longview’s animal shelter has uncovered questionable expenses, including insurance costs that prompted a new civil filing Wednesday probing potential criminal action.

Longview attorney and animal advocate Kelly Heitkamp plans to lay out her findings tonight to a City Council poised to renew its contract with the Humane Society of Northeast Texas. The renewal includes a 23 percent increase to the city.

 Bank “Why doesn’t the mayor ask that shelter to explain itself?” Heitkamp asked Wednesday, citing the tax money in the city’s pending contract with the nonprofit shelter group.

Heitkamp filed suit in August 2011 seeking bank records detailing the shelter’s expenses. She asked to be reimbursed for her staff’s time and for a forensic auditor she hired, but no monetary damages.

The suit went into court-ordered mediation in the summer, and Heitkamp received the records this past month.

“I think we’ve got enough to call people’s attention to say, ‘Why are we giving these people money?’ ” Heitkamp said.

Her auditor, Nicholas Burkett, will present his findings at today’s 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

“The city’s just going to be enabling such behavior if it keeps re-upping the contracts,” Burkett said. “At least, right now it seems to be incompetent.”

Burkett said his research of shelter records indicates, at least, sloppy bookkeeping. Board President Susan Gill has said the board hired a firm to handle bookkeeping since the dates covered in the lawsuit, roughly 2008-10.

The chief findings of the lawsuit appear to be the following:

Some $45,000 in checks written from the daily operations account to Rhonda Spitler during nine months when she was the board’s treasurer;

A $150,000 account that had been set aside for a new facility that now has a balance of $95,000;

About $50,000 spent on health insurance.

That last item is a focus of a separate motion Heitkamp filed Wednesday in the same suit.

Heitkamp said the motion, called a 202 discovery motion, is a formality required when criminal activity is suspected in a potential finding. The motion seeks to question former board member Lee Pigeon Sr. under oath about the health insurance expense, asking how many employees were covered during the years in question. The motion also says Heitkamp seeks the basis for Spitler receiving the $45,000.

Pigeon Sr., who no longer is on the board, declined to respond to the three chief findings Heitkamp plans to unfold tonight, referring them to his son, board member Allen Pigeon.

The son, who joined the board in December, said the shelter does take out health insurance on nine or 10 employees.

“We wouldn’t be able to attract anyone out there if they didn’t have some kind of benefits,” Pigeon said.

The money paid to Spitler, he added, was while she served as interim shelter director. Heitkamp disputes that time frame, saying Spitler was a board member during the nine-month stretch.

“She received $44,977 in operating funds during a nine-month period when she was functioning as treasurer,” Heitkamp said of Spitler.

Gill was out of town Wednesday, but wrote in an email that the fund Heitkamp identifies as the building fund was the regular savings account.

“I do know that the (Humane Society of Northeast Texas) had to use a lot of savings to pay the operating expenses because donations were way down,” Gill wrote. “That is shown in the last audit. No mystery there. The savings is what you referred to as the building fund. The board in years past created and named that savings account. They were saving to build a new building and for repairs to the existing building.”

The forensic accountant didn’t see it that way.

“They drained it into an operating account,” Burkett said. “They’ve run through $55,000 (of the $150,000).”

The contracts the shelter has with Longview and Gregg County require quarterly financial reporting, generally one- or two-page summaries. Mayor Jay Dean and County Judge Bill Stoudt say they are happy with those documents, but Heitkamp said they aren’t enough.

“Auditors will be the first to tell you they don’t look for fraud,” she said. “An audit is prepared by a CPA that they hire. … I offered $20,000 for an independent audit. This is a direct result of them refusing to open their records …. In those financial statements we found everything I suspected we would find.”

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**If you think BAD couldn’t get any worse…well, you are wrong-TOTALLY!!!

Let me explain just how all this works and how it enables these ‘humane societies’ to ‘OPERATE’….OMG!!! and could be going on in your town…the only thing transparent is the corruption!!!

It starts by first establishing an animal shelter and then the city/county hires their services with a contract for animal services. With contract in hand, other cites and counties are approached offering their services to them as well; no matter that they can not cover the territory of the original city/county or have enough space at the shelter for the number of animals that will be coming in…all they have to do is euthanize and claim that animals are un-adoptable…Animals they pick up out of the areas under contract pay money per animal picked up (and killed) ALL done with the claim of ‘loving hands’…The staff is paid and so are ALL employees…ALL this done at taxpayer expense and usually there is a cry for donations to expand to met the need of the large number of animals in the area without saying how big that area has become…thus we have massive numbers of animals being killed and the claim that it is YOUR fault…Spay and neuter becomes the new law and all the animals SOLD by this ‘shelter’ leave there spayed or neutered or you are given a voucher with a discount t a vet associated with this animal shelter…The birth of low cost spay and neutered associated with the facility…Now a full service facility with enormous amounts of money coming in yet that’s just not good enough…We develop the idea that breeders are bad and told not to buy from them…they are bad; so before the first FAKE animal seizure is born (done) the brainwashing begins about ‘Puppy mill’ (no longer a breeder) or the hoarders….so now it’s all done in the name of rescue when no violation of the law existed…

I sat in a court room today in the Longview Municipal Court…where 32 dogs had been seized under the color of law and was one of the biggest fiascoes I have been privy to witness. Mary Gunn had a dog kennel where she was breeding her dogs…While the city has an ordnance preventing more than 6 dogs, it does allow more than 6 when it is an established kennel, pet shop, and a full list of reasons where more than 6 dog rule does not apply and a larger number allowed…

ALL of Mary Gunn’s dogs were seized without citation or given the opportunity to make a correction or be certified (as if there was some sort of magical way to certify a kennel-HA! There is not even a definition of kennel offered by the city of Longview. All the dogs taken and not to be returned…the dogs became the property of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas and SOLD…Not one dirty cage was offered to the court. Her dog kennels and areas extremely clean and the only ‘clutter’ was on her kitchen counter-HELLO!!! A/C used those usual negative words about the conditions in the house however, the words did not match the pictures offered as exhibits to the court.

Essentially, Mary Gunn was raped by the city of Longview and the ends did not justify the means…not by any stretch of the lies they told to that jury. A question was posed to the court by the jury…DEFINE A KENNEL…and the court couldn’t do it…they wanted…or needed, so they think to justify what they did to her and her dogs.

WAKE UP…all of this at taxpayer expense and the one making the money was this 501-c-3 organization…Dogs were killed at that shelter to make room for Mary Gunn’s dogs…My FULL report on the trial that supposedly justified the taking to follow shortly…For the meantime, I am in shock that the authorities made Mary Gunn and her dogs victims under the ‘color of law’ in the worst way-FAKE animal seizure ALL DONE AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE!!!

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http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/animal-shelter-raises-longview-s-rates-says-it-will-stop/article_bf89786a-cbba-54e6-96f8-a609010283fc.html#.UFH_I6mAim4.facebook

Animal shelter raises Longview’s rates, says it will stop accepting animals in two years

While Longview’s new Animal Shelter Task Force grapples with the city’s stray and abandoned animal overpopulation problem, city officials are looking at a 23 percent increase in the cost of sheltering those animals.

The city also is facing a two-year deadline when the local shelter says it will stop accepting animals.

The City Council, at its regular meeting today, will consider entering into a new contract with the Humane Society of Northeast Texas. The new contract will cost $203,125 — a 23 percent increase from this past year’s $165,000 contract.

Mayor Jay Dean said the city does not have other options.

When the new contract was received, Dean said he directed city staff to look at other nearby animal shelters and determine what they would charge to take Longview animals.

Shelters in Jacksonville, Henderson and Marshall were contacted with negative results.

“We could not even get them to give us a price,” Dean said.

“We had no options, so that figured into the decision to assemble a task force. This is something every city is dealing with. I cannot talk to a mayor anywhere that is not dealing with this problem.”

The task force also was assembled after the Humane Society of Northeast Texas served notice they would be getting out of the unwanted animal business. The News-Journal received a copy of a letter making that announcement Wednesday.

The June 4 letter from the Humane Society to Longview City Manager David Willard not only apprised the city of the upcoming contract increase, it also served notice that the shelter would cease taking animals after September 2014.

By that date, the Humane Society plans to no longer operate as an open admission shelter, which means the shelter would only accept animals from residents at its discretion. The shelter no longer would contract with entities such as cities or counties.

Shelter officials would be open to discussion with city staff and elected officials to form a public-private partnership, the letter said.

Dean has said he favors a public-private partnership.

The city’s Animal Shelter Task Force met for the second time Wednesday to determine how best to deal with an area-wide animal over-population problem that is so severe that upwards of 700 animals are euthanized each month.

“Do we need a new organization, or work with the one we have?” Task Force Chairman Dr. Ken Glaze asked at the beginning of the meeting.

The 11-member task force decided to look at successful shelters in other cities.

Glaze recommended starting anew.

“I think starting from ground zero and going up with a complete new program is the way to go,” Glaze said.

Glaze worried diseases that have plagued the Humane Society’s Enterprise Street facility could not be eradicated, and would necessitate the need for a new building.

The group discussed whether to continue working with the Humane Society, to start another non-profit group or recommend a city-owned facility.

John Sims, the council’s liaison to the task force, said he was against continuing a relationship with the Humane Society because of the way the facility has been operated.

“I don’t trust them,” Sims said. “We have no control over this facility. Years ago they got overzealous. Had they concentrated on (serving only) Longview, we would not be in this situation.”

Sims referenced a lawsuit filed by Longview attorney Kelly Heitkamp that sought financial records from the Humane Society.

“We have no control over this group. We ask them for a report and hear, ‘It’s none of your business,’ ” Sims said. “It’s no secret Kelly Heitkamp filed a suit to get financial information.”

Dean said he was satisfied with the financial audits the city receives as part of the contract with the Humane Society.

When the shelter first opened its doors in the 1980s, it was established only for Longview animals, and was built to take in about 140 strays and abandoned animals.

Today, the Humane Society has established contacts with seven other entities besides Longview including Gregg County, Kilgore, Gilmer, Gladewater, White Oak, Ore City and Lake Cherokee.

Most of those entities also are being asked to pay more for shelter services after existing contracts expire Sept. 30.

The increase, Humane Society officials said, is necessary to offset higher costs of doing business combined with a loss in donor revenue.

The Humane Society’s annual audit this year indicated the group had lost more than $100,000 in donations. So far this year, the group is down about $40,000.

“Everybody wants to know how we pay the bills. We have savings from donations in the past. We had to go into those savings when we lost over $100,000 last year,” said Humane Society board President Susan Gill.

The Humane Society’s operating budget is about $600,000. Contracts bring in about $200,000 to $250,000, Gill said.

“We can’t keep going paying our bills from savings, that’s why we told the entities they have to pay more,” Gill said. “It’s an expensive business.”

Based upon the Humane Society’s total budget, board member Allen Pigeon said each animal taken in costs about $85. The contracting entities’ contributions pay for about $25 to $35 of the per animal expense.

“It’s time to raise the rates for the government entities; they haven’t been raised in years,” Pigeon said.

Humane Society officials say it’s only fair that Longview pays the bulk of the expense because of the number of animals the city takes to the shelter.

According to a report prepared by shelter staff, since January, Longview has taken 2,840 unwanted animals to the shelter. Kilgore, the next closest, took 672 in the same time period.

In addition to the contracted entities, the Humane Society has accepted 296 unwanted animals from other surrounding area entities since January.

At Wednesday’s Task Force meeting, Sims said he did not plan to vote for the new contract.

“I’ve been on council starting my seventh year,” Sims said. “This particular problem is put on the back burner every year and we just continue to pay for it.”

Sims said he would like the council to start “a whole new ball game.”

“I want council to put it to a vote and ask the citizens — if they don’t want it, it’s OK, but I think they will. We will float some bonds. This is a black mark on Longview. It’s horrible. I hate it when we throw those animals in the dump out there.”

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**Disclaimer connected to this blog; things said of my opinion and the opinion of others! Best  -B

**The following video is extremely graphic:

~ by topcatsroar on September 27, 2012.

3 Responses to “OPPS -Humane Society of Northeast Texas…Were they caught in an illegal scam?!? -Not For Profit FRAUD!!!”

  1. […] valuable, well cared for dogs to the very same Humane Society (Humane Society of Northeast Texas https://topcatsroar.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/opps-humane-society-of-northeast-texas-were-they-caught-… ) where a rather large sum of money is not accounted for (MISSING) and suit has  been filed by […]

  2. […] Attorney: Lawsuit uncovers questionable finances at Longview animal shelter […]

  3. […] https://topcatsroar.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/opps-humane-society-of-northeast-texas-were-they-caught… […]

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