Bradenton Animal Shelter Owners Charged in Local Court Case
The co-owners of an East Manatee, Florida animal shelter were recently found guilty of both fraud and multiple animal abuse charges. The couple was charged after it was revealed that over 300 abused animals were being held at their East Manatee animal shelter. The husband Alan Napier was found guilty of a single count of scheming to defraud, eight counts of aggravated animal abuse, and a single count of unlawful solicitation. Napiers’ wife Sheree was found guilty of a single count of scheming to defraud, as well as eight counts of aggravated animal abuse. The abuse the couple was charged with is an illustration of a very specific type of white collar crime that rarely makes headlines. In addition to being guilty of animal abuse, the couple is was also found guilty of using their animal shelter’s nonprofit status to defraud others out of thousands of dollars that was supposed to be used for the care of the animals residing at the shelter.
Animal Sanctuary in East Manatee
The Napiers operated the Napiers’ Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary, which had for years been used to receive and shelter an assortment of Bradenton County shelter animals. Animals were continuously sent to the Napiers’ animal sanctuary, even though there were obvious signs of lack of water and food for the animals, in addition to poor sanitation conditions. For years investigators were unable to find sufficient evidence to file criminal charges. However, a lead in the case arose after three animal rights activists trespassed onto the animal sanctuary and found evidence that proved animal abuse was occurring. At the sanctuary, a wide variety of animals including dogs and horses were being held in extremely unsanitary and unlivable conditions.
At the Napiers’ trial, it was the testimony of veterinarians who had treated the animals after they were removed from the sanctuary that seemed to be most convincing to the court. Also persuasive was the evidence regarding the scheme to defraud that had been carried out by the couple. Their animal sanctuary was, until recently, registered as a non-profit 501(c) organization. However, it was revealed at trial that $9,000 had been taken from the non-profit’s account and deposited into the account of one of the Napiers’ for-profit businesses, and over $60,000 was used for non-sanctuary-related expenses, including a $300 amount on Redbox DVD rentals.
To make matters worse, in 2013, the Napiers’ sanctuary lost its nonprofit status, and thereafter the Napiers continued to collect over $15,000 in financial contributions and donations that were supposed to be used in furtherance of the sanctuary. While the Napiers’ attorney attempted to paint the couple as animal lovers who had used their own funds to keep their animal sanctuary afloat, the prosecution was not convinced, stating that:
“Both Napiers, Alan and Sheree, are officers of their 501c3 corporation, both clearly involved at every level, and were deceiving the public…When people went on that property and saw the conditions of animals, when they didn’t have control over who got to see what, these animals that they owned and had custody and control over showed obvious evidence of repeated and excessive infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering.”
The animal abuse and scheme to defraud charges against the Napiers represent a different type of fraud rarely covered in southern Miami news. If you need legal representation in your fraud case, contact South Florida defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today for a consultation and to learn how to begin.