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Appeal in FLOCK Case

Appeal in FLOCK Case

Reported by Gina B. Good in The Pahrump Valley Times ~ Feb. 19, 2010

Beckett files notice of appeal over FLOCK

Black Cat at FLOCK

Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson June 11 dismissed the case against the cat sanctuary formerly located on Bond Street, called For the Love of Cats and Kittens, or FLOCK.

None of the 15 witnesses subpoenaed by the district attorney’s office had the opportunity to speak during the abbreviated hearing.

The case was lost by the state, at least for the time being, due to legal procedures and timing that attorney Tom Gibson, the corporate counsel for FLOCK, argued went beyond the statute of limitations.

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Volunteers Upset

Volunteers Upset

As reported by Gina B. Good in the Pahrump Valley Times ~ Feb. 19, 2010

Volunteers say justice not served

FLOCK Victim

Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson’s small Pahrump courtroom was nearly filled to capacity last week with former FLOCK volunteers, Best Friends Animal Society volunteers and individual animal lovers.

Some of the volunteers traveled from neighboring states to testify in the case of the State vs. For the Love Of Cats and Kittens.

The volunteers had helped to rescue the 764 sickly, malnourished, disease-ridden cats found at the FLOCK cat sanctuary in July 2007.

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Beckett files notice of appeal over FLOCK

Beckett files notice of appeal over FLOCK

Originally published on February 19, 2010

great kitty rescue cat cover girl at the flock compound
SPECIAL TO THE PVT
This emaciated, sickly cat, found at the FLOCK cat sanctuary, was eventually nursed back to health and lived with volunteer Denise Davis, who named her Cover Girl.

By GINA B. GOOD
PVT

Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson June 11 dismissed the case against the cat sanctuary formerly located on Bond Street, called For the Love of Cats and Kittens, or FLOCK.

None of the 15 witnesses subpoenaed by the district attorney’s office had the opportunity to speak during the abbreviated hearing.

The case was lost by the state, at least for the time being, due to legal procedures and timing that attorney Tom Gibson, the corporate counsel for FLOCK, argued went beyond the statute of limitations.

However, on Wednesday, District Attorney Bob Beckett said in an interview, “We are appealing Kent’s decision. He was wrong. We were fully able to try the corporation. The case is going to continue.”

Beckett’s notice of appeal was filed yesterday. Gibson, said that surprised him because he and Beckett’s office had struck a deal that the case would go no further.

“FLOCK was going to write an apology and the stipulation was they would never get into that sort of business again,” said Gibson. In fact, FLOCK still operates in Las Vegas, but does not have a sanctuary.

Gibson argued the amended complaint was filed “literally one working hour before the hearing,” at 4:12 p.m. on Feb. 10 should be stricken. Jasperson agreed.

The amendment added the names of 11 people to the district attorney’s charging document, in place of anonymous “Director Does 1-3, Officer Does 1-3, Officer Does 1-3” and numerous unnamed employees and volunteers who were also identified by the term Doe.

The names on the amendment include members of the executive board.

The litany of charges against FLOCK for abusing and neglecting the animals in their care originated June 5, 2007. The date the DA’s office filed the original complaint, using anonymous John Does, was June 2, 2008. Gibson argued that the statute of limitations of one year to charge individuals had run out one year and 8 months ago.

Attorney Harry Kuehn assisted Gibson, saying, “It was Mr. Beckett” who was at fault “by sitting around for two and a half years.”

After the dismissal, Beckett said, “That’s not fair.” He explained FLOCK’s board had been re-configured, “We had to find out what the culpability of the members of the board were and then go out and investigate that.”

During the short hearing, Gibson said it is his job to point out the state’s mistakes to Jasperson. “This smells like a rotten fish, and it’s not [Deputy District Attorney] Robert Bettinger’s fault. If the people at the top of the food chain at that office did their job, we wouldn’t be here talking about this today.”

Jasperson apparently agreed, saying “If this case bore that much importance to the district attorney’s office, I would assume they would have filed the complaint a whole lot sooner. Now we come here … to finally name the people who are alleged to have committed this travesty against these animals. That is not the defense’s problem.”

Jasperson said the 11 people who were named the day before have rights in the courts, including being properly notified of a charge listed against them. He added they have a right to an arraignment hearing and to obtain counsel if needed. Gibson said he would not be able to represent a group of people who were all named in the same case.

“It’s up to the DA’s office to bring … a charge before the court in a proper time, filed in a proper manner,” said Jasperson.

“The only thing I see in the file is that these animals that were allegedly mistreated, tortured, malnourished or neglected will never have anything done with this because of the way that this has been drug out over and over and continued and continued and filed improperly … Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Jasperson reiterated that there was “not one specific person named” in the filing from 2008. “You cannot charge an organization with a crime, you have to charge an individual,” the judge said. “I’m done. This case is dismissed.”

Bettinger, who objected in court to Gibson saying Beckett put him in a bad situation, said after the hearing he’d been given the case about two months prior and during that time had obtained substantial help from witnesses about the parties who were allegedly responsible for letting the abuse and neglect continue.

Beckett said, “Mr. Jasperson has never practiced law. He doesn’t know the ins and outs of it. We could have just prosecuted the corporation as an entity but we decided to try the members individually. We expected the judge to go along with that.”

Volunteers say justice not served

Volunteers say justice not served

Originally published on February 19, 2010

volunteers who blew the whistle on flock cry over dismissal of animal abuse case
GINA B. GOOD / PVT
Denise Davis, right, cries on the shoulder of Cheryl Runyon. These volunteers from Pahrump at the FLOCK sanctuary for cats alerted Nye County Animal Control to the untenable conditions at the compound.

By GINA B. GOOD
PVT

Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson’s small Pahrump courtroom was nearly filled to capacity last week with former FLOCK volunteers, Best Friends Animal Society volunteers and individual animal lovers.

Some of the volunteers traveled from neighboring states to testify in the case of the State vs. For the Love Of Cats and Kittens.

The volunteers had helped to rescue the 764 sickly, malnourished, disease-ridden cats found at the FLOCK cat sanctuary in July 2007.

At the time, Sheri Allen was president of FLOCK and responsible for the day-to-day operation of the facility. She subsequently was charged with animal cruelty and neglect in a different case having to do with the removal of more than 100 cats from her home in August 2007.

According to Attorney Tom Gibson, who represented Allen, some of the cats at her home were found dead and others were dying. She pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced by Justice of the Peace Tina Brisebill to one year in jail. Allen was then granted a suspended sentence with 40 hours of community service in 2008.

In a courthouse interview, Gibson, who also acted as the corporate counsel for FLOCK, said the executive board “didn’t know they had put the organization in the hands of the wrong person. We were aiding the police and Animal Control because the people I represent love cats.”

Allen also loves cats. In fact, everyone involved with the sanctuary claims to love animals, yet almost 800 cats were kept fenced into a large dusty compound so covered with feces that the ground had to be bulldozed.

Volunteers said there was little or no food or water at the site and the uninsulated clapboard huts that provided the only protection from the elements for the cats had to be drenched with bleach before volunteers could work in the area.

Pahrump veterinarian Suzanne Zervantian, a member of Nye County’s Animal Advisory Board, closed her practice for the day after being subpoenaed to testify for the state. She was among about 14 others who were not able to tell their versions of what happened.

“FLOCK was like a death camp for cats,” she said outside the courtroom.

When Jasperson dismissed the case, only Gibson seemed pleased with the verdict. Jasperson sounded perturbed at the district attorney’s office, Deputy District Attorney Robert Bettinger was consoling his witnesses and others in the courtroom seemed stunned. Many were in tears, including Zervantian.

Whistleblowers Denise Davis and Cheryl Runyon, who first alerted Animal Control to conditions at the so-called sanctuary, described cats with putrid open sores, bloodstained fur and eyes covered with maggots. The women pulled photographs from their bags to prove their claims that justice was not served by dismissing the case.

Patti Broun, who drove from Southern California to the hearing, said what little food was left for the cats was crawling with ants. She alleged FLOCK members knew what was happening even before Best Friends Animal Society arrived to rescue the animals. Davis and Runyon agreed.

Yet, Nye County Animal Control Supervisor Tim McCarty, who decided against attending last week’s hearing, said in a brief interview this week that “something marvelous happened in Pahrump” that should not be overlooked.

McCarty was instrumental in finding Best Friends, whose volunteers, joined by Pahrump volunteers, cleaned the fetid facilities and spent seven months nursing the majority of the cats to health.

Volunteers from the organization also held numerous adoption events until most of the animals found new homes. Many volunteers took cats home to continue treatment, although about 60 cats died from leukemia that ran rampant and was untreated at the FLOCK facility.

“The magic happened and 764 cats were rescued,” McCarty said, adding that if the cats had gone to the county’s animal shelter, they all would have been put down as there was no way to house and treat them.

“It was all to do with timing,” he said. “The magic was finding an organization willing to spend a million dollars on rescuing the cats and taking care of the triage and medical treatment. I understand that people want justice, but I’ve found it’s better to seek mercy than to seek justice.”

Flock Trial Dismissed

Flock Trial Dismissed

Site of the Great Kitty Rescue - Pahrump, Nevada

On Thursday, February 11th, Judge Kent Jasperson dismissed animal neglect charges against FLOCK (For the Love of Cats and Kittens) before the trial even started.

You can read the report from eyewitness Cathy Scott on the Best Friends Animal Society website: “Disappointing Day in Court

Also reporting are San Diego Cat Examiner Corinne Mitchell: “Animal neglect charges against FLOCK dismissed

And San Francisco Cat Examiner Barbara Kohn: “Judge dismisses Great Kitty Rescue case, cites technicality

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