Friday, December 12, 2014

12122014 - News Article - Report: Indiana police justified in fatal shooting - Preliminary report: Indiana police justified in fatal shooting outside Lake Station City Hall



Report: Indiana police justified in fatal shooting
Preliminary report: Indiana police justified in fatal shooting outside Lake Station City Hall
The Elkhart Truth
Posted on Dec. 12, 2014 at 1:32 p.m.

LAKE STATION, Ind. (AP) — Three police officers acted properly when they fatally shot an 84-year-old man outside Lake Station City Hall after he fired a shotgun in the air and then moments later pointed it at officers, a preliminary investigation found.

The report released Friday said the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force determined that “the deadly use of force by the three Lake Station police was justified and their actions potentially prevented other catastrophic events from occurring.”

John Laco of Portage refused to drop the shotgun when ordered to by Lake Station police Lt. John McDaniel and Detectives Dennis Dover and Glenn Gulley, the report said. The officers fired 11 shots at Laco, striking him three times in the head, chest and hand. He died at the scene Tuesday.

The task force will forward a formal report to the Lake County prosecutor’s office for an official independent review of its investigation.

The report said associates described Laco as an angry man who at times suffered from depression. The report also said in 2007 he had stalked a former Lake Station police chief because he was upset how police had handled a juvenile assault case involving a family member.

Lake Station police had rescued Laco from his burning home shortly after midnight on Feb. 20, the report said. Earlier this month, the city had ordered him to demolish the home after he had previously been cited for not cutting the grass or cleaning up debris.

“He frequently made negative comments about the Lake Station mayor and how the city was trying to force him to demolish his fire-damaged residence,” the report said.

Police say the day before Laco was fatally shot, a neighbor of Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist reported hearing what he thought was a gunshot and saw a dark sport utility vehicle driving away. The mayor was not at home and the neighbor didn’t call police.

Authorities learned of what the neighbor heard while investigating Laco’s death. Police said they didn’t find any damage to the mayor’s house, but found a shotgun shell “consistent” with a shell found outside City Hall after Laco fired the shotgun. They also noted that a black Dodge Caliber Laco owned is similar in description to the vehicle the neighbor said he saw, but said they couldn’t say with any certainty whether Laco was involved.

Soderquist told police he didn’t know Laco or have any previous interaction with him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12102014 - News Article - Man killed by Lake Station police had been saved by them months before



Man killed by Lake Station police had been saved by them months before
NWI Times
December 10, 2014
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/police-id-armed-man-killed-in-lake-station-city-hall/article_855e61f0-a6ef-597b-94c0-7a54b29f5f69.html

















LAKE STATION | An 84-year-old man who was pulled from a burning building by police 10 months ago was shot and killed by officers Tuesday after pointing a shotgun at them, officials said.

John Laco, who had addresses in Lake Station and Portage, fired a 16-gauge shotgun into the air in the parking lot outside Lake Station City Hall and got back into his vehicle, said Bob Byrd, spokesman for the Lake County Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.

Three police officers who had been inside the police station went to investigate about 10:30 a.m. after police received a call about a man with a gun, Byrd said.

The officers saw Laco sitting in his vehicle with a window rolled down and the barrel of a shotgun sticking out the window, Byrd said. Police told Laco to drop the weapon and exit the car.

Laco began exiting the vehicle and pointed the shotgun at police, who fired several times, Byrd said.

Laco was shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m., a Lake County coroner's release said.

Byrd did not say how many times Laco was shot and did not release the names of the police officers involved in the shooting.

An inoperable pellet gun that looked like a handgun was found in Laco's sweatshirt, Byrd said. Police were not aware of that weapon until after Laco's death, he said.

Police are investigating whether a report of a gunshot Monday night outside Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist's home, which is in a neighborhood south of City Hall, is connected to Laco, officials said.

"We are still talking to witnesses on the nature of the call," Lake Station Police Chief Kevin Garber said at a news conference Tuesday.

Soderquist declined comment Tuesday pending the police investigation.

Soderquist was not at City Hall on Tuesday when the shooting happened, officials said. Police had no indication that Laco ever entered City Hall, Byrd said.

One of Soderquist's neighbors, Tim Brewer, said he and his wife heard a loud gunshot Monday night.

"I heard it and I'm like, 'Holy cow.' It was loud. It had to be a shotgun or a large caliber," Brewer said.

Brewer said he went outside and didn't see anything. However, he had seen a suspicious dark-colored vehicle parked in two different locations in the area before he heard the gunshot, he said.

Byrd said there is no clear motive for why Laco went to City Hall on Tuesday.

Police have been interviewing Laco's family, including his children, and friends to help determine a motive. Laco was not married. Byrd said there is no indication Laco was suffering from dementia.

Before Tuesday, Laco had little contact with police other than the time they rescued him from the fire, Byrd said.

A Lake Station police officer on patrol the night of Feb. 20 found Laco's residence at 2701 Central Ave., on fire.

Several officers responded and pulled Laco from the burning building, Byrd said. Laco was taken to a hospital.

There was no indication of arson, Byrd said. The fire's cause was determined to be faulty electrical extension cords, he said.

Byrd said about 20 detectives from departments around the region were working the case with the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force, including officers from the Lake County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police.

Police blocked off Central Avenue for much of the day, rerouting traffic through the neighborhood to the south.

Yellow tape was strung around the perimeter of the City Hall property and the Lake Station-New Chicago branch of the Lake County Public Library, which sits just east of City Hall and shares the parking lot.

Two windows and a door at the library branch were damaged in the shooting, said Carolyn Strickland, assistant director for the library system.

Police believe the library was damaged by stray bullets from the gunfire and was not an intended target, Byrd said. It's a "real possibility" the shots that damaged the library came from police, he said.

Fifteen to 20 patrons and employees were inside the branch at the time of the shooting, officials said. No injuries were reported.

The branch was closed after the shooting, and police interviewed each person inside, Strickland said. People were allowed to leave the library following police interviews, but they were not permitted to remove their vehicles until police took down yellow tape from around the parking lot about 4 p.m., Strickland said.

The branch will reopen at 10 a.m. Wednesday, she said.

Ingrid Norris, director of the Lake County Public Library, who was present during the news conference, praised the Police Department.

"The Lake Station police were terrific. They calmed the patrons down, calmed the staff down," she said.

Norris also praised her staff members for how they handled the situation.

Jesus Ruiz, a mechanic at nearby San Juan Tire Shop, said he heard a loud bang about 10:30 a.m. as he and others were putting on gloves and hats in preparation for work.

Ruiz said he initially thought it was a tire bursting at the shop, which sits on the north side of Central Avenue across from City Hall.

The first bang was followed by about a dozen gunshots, he said.

When Ruiz made it outside, he saw smoke rising from near the entrance to City Hall and heard police yelling at a someone to get on the ground, he said.

Ruiz saw a man had been shot in the parking lot between City Hall and the library, he said. A dark-colored vehicle that had been near the man's body was towed from the parking lot about 2:40 p.m., he said.

Ruiz pointed to a white and red cloth on the ground and said it had been used to cover the man before his body was removed from the scene by coroner's officials.

Fire Department personnel arrived after 3 p.m. and began to clean the spot where Ruiz said the body had been.

"To think about it — you're just working and somebody gets shot," Ruiz said. "That's something else."

Tom Nikalaj, of nearby Joe's Auto Sales at 1900 Central Ave., said he was in the business Tuesday morning when he heard gunshots.

Nikalaj said he opened the front door and heard police yelling at a man to get down before he heard 10 to 14 shots.

"It was like watching a movie," Nikalaj said. 

Nikalaj said he planned to go to City Hall to pay his water bill Tuesday morning but decided to vacuum some of the cars in the lot first.

12102014 - News Article - Neighbors shocked by Laco's shooting death



Neighbors shocked by Laco's shooting death


NWI Times
December 10, 2014







LAKE STATION | Three boarded up windows at the Lake Station-New Chicago branch of the Lake County Public Library were the only reminders of gunfire that ended the life of John Laco, 84, on Tuesday.

About a mile away, neighbors of Laco's burned out former home at 2701 Central Ave. said they were shocked by the death because Laco always seemed so nice. Mike, at Mike's Gas Stop across the street from the home, said Laco used to come in all the time to buy lottery tickets, a newspaper and Little Debbie cakes, and frequently complained about City Hall.

"He put up cardboard signs in front of his house complaining about the taxes," said Mike, who would not give his last name.

The siding on Laco's home is melted and looks like torn, dirty sheets, and much of the exterior is charred. A fire there Feb. 20 was blamed on faulty electrical extension cords. Laco was pulled from the building by police officers and was treated for smoke inhalation, a neighbor said.

Lisa Krebs, who lives across the street to the west of the charred structure, said Laco knew her grandfather and she's known him since she was a small child.

"I used to give him rides to different places," Krebs said. "He was a pretty decent guy. I never had any problems with him. I saw him in the hospital a couple of times after the fire."

She said his house smells bad in the summer and she expected it to be torn down, but nothing has happened.

She called Tuesday's shooting death at the library/City Hall complex "shocking." And, like several others who knew him, she saw nothing before to indicate he would do anything rash.

Police said Laco was sitting in his car with the barrel of a shotgun sticking out the window. He was ordered by police to drop the gun and exit the car. As he exited the car, Laco allegedly pointed the gun at police, who opened fire, striking Laco several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting is still under investigation.

"He always complained about his water bill," Krebs said. "Everybody says the water bill is too high."

"It's sad, but you can't do that," Krebs said of Laco's alleged actions with the gun.

Jim and Jeannette Hamilton own the engine repair shop next to Laco's home and said they occasionally helped him out. Their son Mitch would mow Laco's lawn, and Jim would do small repairs for Laco. He said Laco would offer to pay for it, but Hamilton refused the offer as a gesture of goodwill between neighbors. They described the relationship with Laco as neighborly without any problems.

Betty Ortiz said Laco came into her Central Laundromat regularly and would talk a bit.

"He was a very clean-cut man," Ortiz said. "He looked like my father would in the old days. This was a sad thing, especially since we knew him and he died that way."

Her daughter Julie Ortiz said Laco often came into the video store where she worked 20 years ago and was always very nice.

"When I found out it was him, I couldn't believe it," Julie Ortiz said. "He wasn't somebody we would complain about, but he wasn't somebody you just chatted with."


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12092014 - News Article - Elderly man fatally shot by Indiana police after firing shotgun



Elderly man fatally shot by Indiana police after firing shotgun
CLTV - Chicago Land TV
WGN WEB DESK
DECEMBER 9, 2014 - 2:02 PM
http://cltv.com/2014/12/09/elderly-man-fatally-shot-by-indiana-police-after-firing-shotgun/
Authorities in Lake Station, Indiana continue to investigate a police shooting that resulted in the death of an elderly man Tuesday morning.

84-year-old John Laco was shot by officers in the parking lot of city hall just before 10:30 a.m., moments after Laco is alleged to have fired a single round into the air from a 16 gauge shotgun.

Police found him inside his car moments later, with the shotgun barrel sticking out the window.

“They ordered the individual to drop the weapon and show his hand. The suspect at that time then opened the car door and began to exit the car with the shotgun pointed at the officers at which time all three officers began to fire,” said Bob Byrd of Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.

Several rounds hit Laco killing him, as well as breaking a window at the nearby library, prompting a temporary lockdown there.

Police later found an inoperative pellet gun inside Laco’s sweatshirt pocket.

Ironically, Lake Station officers saved Laco’s life in February of this year during a late-night electrical fire at his home.

It is still unknow why Laco was outside city hall today and why he fired the single gunshot.

“Right now we’re interviewing family members trying to determine what that notice may have been. We have none at this time,” Byrd said.

There was some sort of altercation at the home of Lake Station mayor Keith Soderquist yesterday afternoon.   Neither the police chief or mayor would confirm if Laco was involved in that, saying only that the investigation is ongoing.

An autopsy scheduled for tomorrow

12092014 - News Article - Police Shoot, Kill Elderly Man Armed With Shotgun Outside Lake Station City Hall



Police Shoot, Kill Elderly Man Armed With Shotgun Outside Lake Station City Hall
CBS News - Chicago
December 9, 2014 - 1:30 PM
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/12/09/police-shoot-kill-elderly-man-armed-with-shotgun/

CHICAGO (CBS) – Police say an 84-year-old man who was burned out of his home less than a year ago fired a shotgun Tuesday outside the City Hall in Lake Station, Indiana, east of Gary, and confronted police, who killed him.

The gunman, identified by police and the Lake County coroner as John Laco, had moved from friend’s home to friend’s home since the Feb. 10 fire, when different Lake Station officers saved his life.

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Robert Byrd said bystanders called 911 at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to report that Laco held a shotgun aloft and fired it once into the air in the parking lot shared by the Lake Station municipal complex and public library.

Three officers responded within moments to find the barrel of the shotgun hanging outside the driver’s window to Laco’s car. Byrd said that when the officers ordered Laco to drop the gun, he allegedly emerged from the car to confront them, “with the shotgun pointed at the officers, at which time all three police officers began to fire” at Laco. The number of shots was not immediately clear, although witnesses said they heard more than a dozen shots.

The gunfire broke a window in the public library, which police placed on lockdown until police could determine that Laco acted alone. Byrd said the task force is trying to determine if Laco is the person who fired a shot 18 hours earlier at Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist’s home.

Soderquist had been at City Hall 10-15 minutes before the shooting, but Byrd said Soderquist had left the area.

Byrd said there is no known bad blood between the men. But Soderquist is under indictment on charges of using campaign funds and money from the city’s food pantry to feed a gambling addiction, charges Soderquist has denied.

In fact, Byrd said, the February fire is the only contact of consequence police had with Laco before Tuesday. Laco suffered only minor injuries in the February fire, and was released at the time after treatment at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Hobart.

Byrd said the task force has mobilized 20 detectives from various Lake County departments, as well as the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

12062014 - NW Indiana official under FBI investigation expects sympathy - REALLY???







Davich: Officials’ three magic words: ‘Off the record’
Post Tribune
JERRY DAVICH 
November 5, 2014 
A couple weeks back, I was asked to meet with a well-known public officeholder who wanted to have an entire conversation with me off the record...

So we met at the national chain joint for breakfast and this guy told me how the FBI has been grilling him for months about his record keeping, his office and even his personal finances. He’s been a wreck over it, causing him enough grief to lose weight and, to a degree, lose his sanity.

“Jerry, it’s brutal,” he told me, shaking his head and stirring his coffee.

He explained to me about a parallel world existing in this region that swirls around targeted public officials under the feds’ microscope, whether they’re guilty of wrongdoing or not. This underworld soon includes questions for anyone remotely associated with the target, including their friends, family and even church pastors.

“Let me tell you, it’s the worst. It’s sheer terror,” he told me.

Or as one targeted public official once told me: “It’s un-American is what it is. They pull your credit reports, they scan your files, they ask for all your receipts, some dating back a decade.” ...


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Davich: Officials’ three magic words: ‘Off the record’
Post Tribune
JERRY DAVICH 
November 5, 2014 
“Off the record.”

I hear this phrase on an almost daily basis from region officials who want me to know their insights about certain issues, but not with their name attached. I heard it more often as Election Day approached, with political candidates even more leery about controversial topics, campaign strategies or mudslinging gossip.

These behind-the-scenes insights forced me to look differently at many of the candidates who were running for public office in this past midterm election. I learned that one candidate struggles with bipolar-related anger issues (he won his race), another one is a delusional megalomaniac (he lost his office). I voted accordingly.

“Jerry, this is just between you and me – you know, off the record, so you know the truth,” a Northwest Indiana mayor told me recently.

He then told me what I needed to know to write my column, though he was never mentioned. This is a commonplace exchange for journalists. For many, their bread and butter. Always has been. We rely on such insights, information or confirmation of rumored facts.

Talking-head officials, especially the polished ones, know this and they’re quick to preface any conversation with those three magic words: Off the record. When I’m doing an interview in person, I will literally put down my pen and turn off my recorder, to show them I understand their concerns.

It’s my way to show respect, as well as appreciation of their trust in me. (If I was a public official, I would certainly think twice before talking with someone like me, that’s for sure.)

Some bureaucrats still remain leery, insisting for verbal confirmation that I will not attach their name to what I’m told. Others will quietly escort me away from any crowds to whisper in my ear, literally. I once had a police detective usher me away from any crowds three times during the same conversation involving his department. That’s how paranoid he was about talking to me in public.

“You can never be too safe about this stuff,” he told me, his eyes darting back and forth.

A couple weeks back, I was asked to meet with a well-known public officeholder who wanted to have an entire conversation with me off the record. He asked to meet with me for coffee somewhere and I had him choose the restaurant. Why? I knew he was nervous about being seen in public with me, or with any media type for that matter.

“How about this place?” he asked, referring to a national chain restaurant. “I don’t know of a lot of politicians who meet there.”

He’s right. Most pols seem to gravitate to local eateries, coffeehouses or bars where they know the owners, the servers and most of the customers. They feel like Norm from “Cheers.” Great for the ego, I’m guessing.

So we met at the national chain joint for breakfast and this guy told me how the FBI has been grilling him for months about his recordkeeping, his office and even his personal finances. He’s been a wreck over it, causing him enough grief to lose weight and, to a degree, lose his sanity.
“Jerry, it’s brutal,” he told me, shaking his head and stirring his coffee.

He explained to me about a parallel world existing in this region that swirls around targeted public officials under the feds’ microscope, whether they’re guilty of wrongdoing or not. This underworld soon includes questions for anyone remotely associated with the target, including their friends, family and even church pastors.

“Let me tell you, it’s the worst, it’s sheer terror,” he told me.

Or as one targeted public official once told me: “It’s un-American is what it is. They pull your credit reports, they scan your files, they ask for all your receipts, some dating back a decade.”

Some of these targeted officeholders get trained by the feds on how to take a bribe – with a wire attached to them – to catch any wrongdoing by others.

So why did this particular officeholder tell me all this over a 90-minute conversation?

“It’s not fair and someone like you needs to know what’s going on, just in case,” he said. “This isn’t only about me, but for anyone in this position. A lot of it is just perception.”

Perception is reality, especially in politics. For many public officials it’s all that matters anyway. This is why “off the record’ is used so often by so many of them, including ones who do nothing wrong. They don’t mind sharing information. They just can’t be held accountable for its origin or responsible for its consequences.

Keep this in mind when reading newspaper stories, media accounts or this column space. And if you want me to know something I otherwise wouldn’t, or possibly shouldn’t, don’t forget to first say those three magic words.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

11192014 - News Article - Portage mayor claims late taxes a 'misunderstanding'



Portage mayor claims late taxes a 'misunderstanding'
NWI Times
November 19, 2014
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/portage/portage-mayor-claims-late-taxes-a-misunderstanding/article_0fdbeefa-4e84-567d-831f-3bc19b5b4a9e.html

PORTAGE | Portage Mayor James Snyder said Wednesday he's taking action to make sure he pays his property tax on time in the future.

Snyder owes $1,827 in taxes and penalties on his family's home. He and his wife own a home on Laurel Street as well, but records indicate taxes are paid through a mortgage company and have been paid in full.

"I believe the payment on our Austin property is currently nine days late and the payment is in the mail and will be current as it is on our Laurel property," Snyder wrote in an email.

His property taxes were due Nov. 10.

"We have also paid the penalties and interest due without any questions," his Wednesday email states. "We intend to sign up for escrows automatically deducted from our checking so that we don’t have this problem or misunderstanding in the future as we understand we are held to a higher standard as public officials."

He didn't offer an explanation as to why he didn't pay his taxes on time last week.

It isn't the first time he's missed paying property taxes on time.
According to public records, Snyder ended 2011 owing $1,596 in taxes and penalties. He didn't make a payment until Aug. 14, 2012, indicating he didn't pay either the spring or fall tax installments on time that year, ending 2012 with a $1,777 debit to the county on his Austin Street property.

He took office in 2012.

In 2013, he made two payments to the county, one in January and a second in May. He missed the November deadline and ended the year owing $1,676 in taxes and penalties.

His tax bill, according to the records, entering 2014 rose to $5,327. His only payment of $3,500 was made Aug. 22, 2014, leaving the current balance.

Matt Baker, Porter County chief deputy treasurer, said taxpayers are considered delinquent if they do not pay their installments by the deadline. Once the deadline passes, they pay a 5 percent penalty for 30 days if they have no prior delinquencies. If they have previous delinquencies or they past 30 days, an additional 5 percent is assessed on the tax owed.

After three consecutive installments go unpaid, a property can go up for tax sale.

In addition, there is a state law allowing a government employee's wages to be garnished if they fail to pay their property taxes. The county treasurer's office is required to inform the government entity and the employee's wages can be garnished to pay the back taxes, Baker said.

However, he added, past practice has allowed the garnishment to be bypassed if the employee shows some kind of effort to pay the tax bill.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

11052014 - VIDEO - Protecting Pets From Domestic Violence








Protecting Pets From Domestic Violence

11052014 - News Article - Davich: Officials’ three magic words: ‘Off the record’



Davich: Officials’ three magic words: ‘Off the record’
Post Tribune
JERRY DAVICH 
November 5, 2014 
“Off the record.”

I hear this phrase on an almost daily basis from region officials who want me to know their insights about certain issues, but not with their name attached. I heard it more often as Election Day approached, with political candidates even more leery about controversial topics, campaign strategies or mudslinging gossip.

These behind-the-scenes insights forced me to look differently at many of the candidates who were running for public office in this past midterm election. I learned that one candidate struggles with bipolar-related anger issues (he won his race), another one is a delusional megalomaniac (he lost his office). I voted accordingly.

“Jerry, this is just between you and me – you know, off the record, so you know the truth,” a Northwest Indiana mayor told me recently.

He then told me what I needed to know to write my column, though he was never mentioned. This is a commonplace exchange for journalists. For many, their bread and butter. Always has been. We rely on such insights, information or confirmation of rumored facts.

Talking-head officials, especially the polished ones, know this and they’re quick to preface any conversation with those three magic words: Off the record. When I’m doing an interview in person, I will literally put down my pen and turn off my recorder, to show them I understand their concerns.

It’s my way to show respect, as well as appreciation of their trust in me. (If I was a public official, I would certainly think twice before talking with someone like me, that’s for sure.)

Some bureaucrats still remain leery, insisting for verbal confirmation that I will not attach their name to what I’m told. Others will quietly escort me away from any crowds to whisper in my ear, literally. I once had a police detective usher me away from any crowds three times during the same conversation involving his department. That’s how paranoid he was about talking to me in public.

“You can never be too safe about this stuff,” he told me, his eyes darting back and forth.

A couple weeks back, I was asked to meet with a well-known public officeholder who wanted to have an entire conversation with me off the record. He asked to meet with me for coffee somewhere and I had him choose the restaurant. Why? I knew he was nervous about being seen in public with me, or with any media type for that matter.

“How about this place?” he asked, referring to a national chain restaurant. “I don’t know of a lot of politicians who meet there.”

He’s right. Most pols seem to gravitate to local eateries, coffeehouses or bars where they know the owners, the servers and most of the customers. They feel like Norm from “Cheers.” Great for the ego, I’m guessing.

So we met at the national chain joint for breakfast and this guy told me how the FBI has been grilling him for months about his recordkeeping, his office and even his personal finances. He’s been a wreck over it, causing him enough grief to lose weight and, to a degree, lose his sanity.
“Jerry, it’s brutal,” he told me, shaking his head and stirring his coffee.

He explained to me about a parallel world existing in this region that swirls around targeted public officials under the feds’ microscope, whether they’re guilty of wrongdoing or not. This underworld soon includes questions for anyone remotely associated with the target, including their friends, family and even church pastors.

“Let me tell you, it’s the worst, it’s sheer terror,” he told me.

Or as one targeted public official once told me: “It’s un-American is what it is. They pull your credit reports, they scan your files, they ask for all your receipts, some dating back a decade.”

Some of these targeted officeholders get trained by the feds on how to take a bribe – with a wire attached to them – to catch any wrongdoing by others.

So why did this particular officeholder tell me all this over a 90-minute conversation?

“It’s not fair and someone like you needs to know what’s going on, just in case,” he said. “This isn’t only about me, but for anyone in this position. A lot of it is just perception.”

Perception is reality, especially in politics. For many public officials it’s all that matters anyway. This is why “off the record’ is used so often by so many of them, including ones who do nothing wrong. They don’t mind sharing information. They just can’t be held accountable for its origin or responsible for its consequences.

Keep this in mind when reading newspaper stories, media accounts or this column space. And if you want me to know something I otherwise wouldn’t, or possibly shouldn’t, don’t forget to first say those three magic words.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10012014 - News Article - Valpo receives subpoena for University Promenade project



Valpo receives subpoena for University Promenade project
NWI Times
October 01, 2014
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/valpo-receives-subpoena-for-university-promenade-project/article_23604651-6aeb-5947-91c3-c28b2d2c847b.html






VALPARAISO | The FBI delivered a subpoena to the city clerk's office Tuesday asking for documents related to the University Promenade project.

A statement issued by city Economic Development Director Patrick Lyp said the city is cooperating with the investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office but that much of the material requested previously was presented to the federal authorities.


"Back in August, and without the need for a subpoena, the city's Redevelopment Commission voluntarily produced to the FBI a seven-page narrative of the entire Eastgate project dating back to 2006, including all relevant documents," Lyp said in the statement. 


"As part of that voluntary submission, it was agreed that any further document request would be handled between lawyers and without need for a subpoena.


"Although subsequent inquiries were made by the city to the FBI as to whether additional documents were needed, no response was received and no documents or information was ever requested. 


After the subpoena was served (Tuesday), it was discovered the agent who served the subpoena had not spoken to the original agent assigned to the matter and had not reviewed the file, which included the narrative and relevant documents, some of which were the same documents requested in the subpoena."


The city's statement concludes, "The city respects the difficult job undertaken by all law enforcement officials and recognizes that as part of any investigation, resolution will not be immediate. The city will stand by its commitment to operate in good faith and provide whatever information is requested in order to bring the city's involvement to a close."

Items requested Tuesday included "all contracts, purchase agreements, leases, redevelopment agreements associated with the sale of the property," "any and all records of advertising done by the city regarding the request for proposal associated with the property sale" and "meeting minutes of the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission or any other relevant commission or board associated with the city ... wherein the sale of said property was discussed."

Lyp said many of the items requested were given to investigators in August when the FBI went to the Porter County Auditor's Office. The information from the auditor's office including aerial images of the site and sales disclosure on the six parcels involved with University Promenade. A copy of the check for the sale and a copy of the unsuccessful bid were among those items still to be provided by the city.


Although the request was made to the clerk-treasurer's office, Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Swihart said she was not in the office at the time the FBI appeared. No other subpoenas were delivered to any other offices or individuals. The subpoena covers the period between Jan. 1, 2008, and July 31, 2014.


The commission twice put the property up for sale. The first deal fell through when the recession hit, and the developer was unable to follow through with the agreement. The deadline for second agreement with Al Krygier had to be extended before it proceeded to completion.

10012014 - News Article - Feds subpoena more Valparaiso records



Feds subpoena more Valparaiso records 
Post-Tribune 
October 1, 2014 1:32PM 
Updated: October 2, 2014 2:04AM

VALPARAISO -- Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Swihart has been served with a federal subpoena for records, City Economic Development Director Patrick Lyp said Wednesday.

“This is the only subpoena received by any entity associated with the City and no other subpoenas were served on anyone, nor have the FBI agents interview(ed) (or asked to interview) anyone associated with the City,” Lyp stated in an email Wednesday.

The subpoena ordered that the city turn over documents related to the Eastgate project, now known as University Promenade, a pair of condominium complexes.

The complexes sit on either side of University Drive between Lincolnway and Valparaiso University.

The FBI requested all documents on the sale of the land to Al Krygier, the developer who bought the land, from January 2008 through July 2014.

This included minutes from the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission meetings, records of bids and requests for proposals, all contracts and purchase agreements and records for advertising the sale.

In a statement Wednesday, Lyp and the city stated Valparaiso’s policy of full cooperation with the FBI remains.

The city adopted this police in August when FBI agents requested information on University Promenade from the Porter County Assessor’s office. At that time, the city gave FBI agents a seven-page narrative of the project from 2006 on, including information on the original Eastgate project.

Some of the documents the subpoena requested were ones the city handed over already, according to the statement.

The Assistant United States Attorney in the case “apologized for the unnecessary public action,” according to the city’s statements.

When the city originally handed the seven-page narrative to the FBI in August, it also released a press release stating the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission and its staff would “fully cooperate with the FBI.”

Lyp said the city did that because “it seemed pretty apparent they’d want to request documents from us.”

Eastgate was a project to beautify east Lincolnway by razing older buildings and offering grants for new facades in 2006.

The block now has seven university-style apartment buildings and with retail stores on the bottom and a Horizon Bank branch.

The Plan Commission currently has a request for a four-lot subdivision of the University Promenade property.

10012014 - News Article - FBI continues to request information from Portage officials



FBI continues to request information from Portage officials
NWI Times
October 01, 2014 12:54 pm
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/portage/fbi-continues-to-request-information-from-portage-officials/article_63645550-b9a0-5c79-9004-62609660568f.html

PORTAGE | Another Portage official has received a federal subpoena seeking information on city purchases.

Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham confirmed Wednesday that he received an electronic subpoena from the FBI seeking records of all payments and invoices from Circle R Electric between Jan. 1, 2008 and the end of September.

Stidham also confirmed that he was interviewed last month by an FBI agent for more than an hour. During the interview, Stidham said they discussed a "wide range of topics" involving the mayor's office, Redevelopment Commission activities, property purchases and relationships between various individuals.

Stidham said he was also asked to provide certified copies of Board of Works minutes by the city attorney's office involving contracts for the purchase of garbage trucks. The information was necessary, he said, to fulfill a subpoena the city's street department received last month.

Wednesday's subpoena was the latest in a string delivered by the FBI to various officials. In July the FBI requested Mayor James Snyder's campaign finance records and records from his political action committee Portage Mayor Elect 2011. The Utility Services Board also received subpoenas that month seeking documents related to a trip Snyder took to Austria he initially funded through the department, but then paid back the cost.

Snyder declined comment Wednesday afternoon, but has previously said the city will cooperate with all requests.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

09302014 - News Article - Auditor’s deputy admits sending campaign email on county computer



Auditor’s deputy admits sending campaign email on county computer 
Post-Tribune 
September 30, 2014 
Updated: October 1, 2014 


VALPARAISO – The chief deputy in Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski’s office used his work email in late September to send a candidate questionnaire, apparently at Wichlinski’s behest.

The federal court system has statutes against campaigning during business hours, said Bob Ramsey, supervisory special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“It’s an offense that could be charged if it’s proven. It has caused problems for politicians and impacted their political life and their personal life,” he said. “Is it proper to do? I think you’re flirting with some danger there, given what’s happened to politicians in the past.”

Wichlinski did not return a call seeking comment.

In Lake County, former Surveyor George Van Til is awaiting federal sentencing for using employees in his office to campaign during the work day, among other offenses.

The Post-Tribune received a copy of the email, sent during the workday on Sept. 19 from Ryan Kubal’s Porter County email address, through a public records request to County Attorney Elizabeth Knight.

The email contains the subject line “Robert J. Wichlinski Candidate Questionaire” (sic) and is addressed to Joe Wszolek, chief operating officer for the Greater Northern Indiana Association of Realtors. It was sent at 1:04 p.m.

The attachment is a three-page response to the Realtors Political Action Committee trustee candidate questionnaire, used by GNIAR to determine which candidates to support for the Nov. 4 general election.

Kubal confirmed that he sent the document.

“Bob asked me,” Kubal said. “He gave me something earlier in the day, so I scanned it in and forwarded it to (Wszolek). I have no clue what it is. Bob asked me to scan it in and send it, so I did.”

Wszolek said his office often speaks with political candidates looking for endorsements at election time, as do other organizations.

His role is to gather that information, which is confidential, so members can decide which candidates to support, he said, declining to confirm or deny he received the email. GNIAR’s membership includes real estate agents throughout the area, including Porter County.

The incident also may be a breach of the county’s personnel handbook.

While employees can engage in political activity when they are not at work, the manual prohibits employees and elected officials from using “county materials, funds, property, personnel, facilities or equipment for any purpose other than for official county business.”

The manual also states that employees and elected officials “shall not engage in or direct others to engage in work other than the performance of official duties during work hours.”

Wichlinski, a Republican, is seeking a second term in office against Democrat Vicki Urbanik. 

The matter troubled Urbanik.

“The issue is, did Bob direct his employee to do this on county time?” she said. “To me, it’s an absolute violation of common sense and ethical behavior of an official.”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

09202014 - News Article - Lake Station mayor, wife seek trial delay



Lake Station mayor, wife seek trial delay
Post-Tribune (IN) 
September 20, 2014 

Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist , his wife and his stepdaughter are seeking to delay their criminal trials until February. 

In two motions filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, attorneys for Soderquist and his family say that his wife, Deborah Soderquist , is experiencing health problems that make it impossible for her to take part in her two trials, which are scheduled to begin Oct. 20. 

They are asking that the trials be continued until at least February. 

A federal grand jury indicted Soderquist and his wife in April in two separate cases. In the first case, the two are accused of using money from the mayor’s election campaign fund and money meant for Lake Station’s food pantry for personal use, including several gambling trips to Michigan. 

In the second case, Deborah Soderquist ’s daughter, Miranda Blakely, is charged with stealing money from the city when she worked there as a court clerk and not reporting it as income when she filed for bankruptcy. 

The mayor and his wife are charged in that case with helping her after the fact and with money structuring. 

All three have pleaded not guilty in the case. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

09192014 - News Article - Soderquists cite health issue in seeking trial delay



Soderquists cite health issue in seeking trial delay
NWI Times
September 19, 2014 - 7:20 pm  
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/lake-station/soderquists-cite-health-issue-in-seeking-trial-delay/article_d6456679-7aa3-5f49-bbd2-589e713b0038.html
Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist and his wife and stepdaughter have asked the federal court to delay their trials until early next year.

Keith Soderquist, his wife, Deborah Soderquist, and stepdaughter Miranda Brakley, had been scheduled to go on trial Oct. 20.

Deborah Soderquist has developed a health issue that will make it impossible for her to participate in trial until no earlier than February, attorneys for the Soderquists and Brakley said in two motions filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Hammond.

The government did not object to granting the motion.

Soderquist and his wife are accused by the government of improperly using money from the city's food pantry and his re-election campaign at local casinos.

Both pleaded not guilty to a total 15 criminal charges spanning two criminal indictments.

The second indictment alleges the couple knew that Brakley pocketed at least $5,000 from the Lake Station City Court and helped prevent apprehension.

The April indictments came after the fall 2013 execution of search warrants at Lake Station City Hall.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

09182014 - News Article - FBI Adds Animal Cruelty To National Crime Report



FBI Adds Animal Cruelty To National Crime Report
September 18 2014 - 10:49 AM
http://www.staceypageonline.com/2014/09/18/fbi-adds-animal-cruelty-to-national-crime-report/


Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey officially announced a historic change in the identification and reporting of animal cruelty crime statistics. The FBI will now report animal cruelty crimes as a separate offense under the agency’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Program, the prime source of information on crime in the United States.

“The change instituted by the FBI formally recognizes the seriousness of animal abuse crimes and their negative impact on the welfare of society,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “The data that will become available as a result of this change will help law enforcement better understand and respond to these types of crimes, which occur alongside many other forms of violence and criminal activity.” AWI staff first suggested this policy change to the FBI 12 years ago.

Previously, when and if information about animal cruelty crimes was captured in the UCR, the data were relegated to a catchall category entitled “All Other Offenses” and grouped in with a variety of other, mostly minor, crimes. With this significant revision, animal cruelty statistics will now be itemized separately and become available for review and analysis.

Animal cruelty crimes will be classified as distinct Group A offenses, joining other major crimes such as arson, assault, and homicide, and will require the reporting of both incidents and arrests. The reported crimes will be categorized as simple/gross neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse; and animal sexual abuse.

Critical assistance from the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), which submitted its own request; the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA); and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) helped achieve the positive recommendation for the reporting change from the FBI’s advisory committees.

NSA Deputy Executive Director John Thompson, who provided leadership on behalf of the proposal, said, “The National Sheriff’s Association is committed to providing law enforcement officers with information about the realities of animal abuse and its close link to other crimes. We are gratified by the FBI’s response and Director Comey’s commitment to improve public safety!”

The information on animal cruelty crimes that will become available through this reporting change will allow law enforcement agencies, policy makers, researchers, and others to better understand the factors associated with animal abuse, ascertain the characteristics of the perpetrators, and identify when and where such crimes occur, greatly benefiting the criminal justice community.

For more information on the UCR, please visit http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

09172014 - News Article - State Criminal Animal Protection Laws



State Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

Alabama Animal Cruelty Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Alabama are found in four different chapters of the Code of Alabama: Title 2, Chapter 15; Title 3, Chapter 1; Title 13A, Chapter 11; and Title 13A Chapter 12. This document begins Title 13A (“the criminal code”) Chapter 11 (“offenses against public order and safety”) Article 1 (“offenses against public order and decency”). It summarizes each subsection that relates to animals, including the overarching law against intentional and reckless cruelty, neglect, and infliction of injury or death, as well as specific laws pertaining to police dogs and greyhounds used for racing. 


Alaska Animal Cruelty Laws 
Alaska’s criminal animal protection laws can be found in Title 11 (Criminal Law) and Title 3 (Agriculture, Animals, and Food). Title 11 contains the state’s main animal cruelty statute (§ 11.61.140), as well as the statute criminalizing animal-fighting exhibitions (§ 11.61.145). Title 3 contains general definitions (§ 03.55.190), minimum standards of animal care (§ 03.55.100), investigation of cruelty complaints (§ 03.55.110), seizure (§ 03.55.120), and destruction and adoption (§ 03.55.130). Alaska case law relates almost entirely to the main cruelty statute (§ 11.61.140). 


Arizona Animal Cruelty Laws 
This document begins with the cruelty to animals statute. This statute also provides penalties for interfering, killing or harming a working or service animal. Both misdemeanor and felony penalties are provided for within this section of Chapter 29. The following section contains Arizona’s bestiality statute which states that engaging in oral sexual contact, sexual contact, or sexual intercourse with an animal is unlawful. This includes causing another person to engage in those same activities with an animal and a violation of either will result in a class 6 felony conviction. However, if one causes a minor to engage in this conduct, it is a class 3 felony. The court may also order those convicted of bestiality to undergo a psychological evaluation and participate in appropriate counseling sessions. 


Arkansas Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Arkansas include consolidated cruelty and animal fighting laws. Under the Arkansas code, animal(s) abuse can result in the animal being forfeited for an indefinite period of time, or the court can order a mental evaluation and or psychological/psychiatric treatment of the abuser. Moreover, after conviction of animal cruelty, up to one year in jail may be ordered and up to a $1,000 fine may be issued for each animal abused. Case law has firmly established the award of restitution for the keeper or caregiver of a forfeited animal. The court may order the offender to pay restitution to house and/or treat the forfeited animal, and may hold the animal until restitution is paid. This document begins with the offenses of cruelty to animals; aggravated cruelty to dog, cat, or horse; animal fighting; animal dying; and bear exploitation. This document then addresses exemptions to the aforementioned offenses. Then, the document addresses Arkansas sentencing laws. 


California Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in California can be found throughout various parts of the Penal, Food & Agriculture, and Health & Safety Codes; Title 14 of the Penal Code, "Malicious Mischief," contains most of these laws, but others are included in Penal Code Titles 9, 10 and 13. In addition, the Food & Agriculture Code has criminal animal protection laws as well as Sections providing affirmative defenses to livestock owners for killing and/or seizing dogs. 


Colorado Animal Protection Laws 
In Colorado, criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily within Title 18.9, the Cruelty to Animals section of Article 9 of the Colorado Criminal Code, Offenses Against Public Peace, Order, and Decency, which include the state's anti-cruelty and animal fighting provisions. However, there are also other laws related to animal cruelty defined elsewhere within the Code of Colorado, including Article 42 of Title 35, Agriculture, cited as the "Animal Protection Act" regarding rights of agricultural animals. This document lists each animal protection law currently in place and the procedural sections of each law with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from Colorado follows each law. This summary begins with statutes under Title 18.9, including the basic cruelty to animal statute and moves on to the unlawful ownership of dangerous dogs, animal fighting, tampering or drugging of livestock, and then moves on to statutes under Title 35, including the protection of animals mistreated, neglected, or abandoned and the euthanasia of injured animals. The remaining portion of the summary details penalties, punishments, and enforcement statutes relating to animal cruelty. 


Connecticut Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Connecticut’s prohibitions against cruelty to animals fall within a comprehensive statutory framework. Central prohibitions are listed within the document, and discussed in the following order: •Title 22 – Agriculture. Domestic Animals -Chapter 435 – Dogs and Other Companion Animals. Kennels and Pet Shops •Title 29 – Public Safety and State Police -Chapter 530A.– Connecticut Humane Society •Title 53. Crimes. -Chapter 945. (Offenses Against Humanity and Morality) Cruelty to Animals. Connecticut cases found on PetAbuse.com are also included in this document. 


Delaware Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal cruelty laws for the state of Delaware can be found primarily within Title 11: Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Chapter 5: Specific Offenses, under Subchapter VII: Offenses Against Public Health, Order and Decency. The general anti-cruelty provisions for the state, as well as general definitions regarding animals can be found within §1325 of this subchapter. This summary begins with the most prominent animal cruelty laws in Delaware, which address an animal owner's duties; abandonment; and cruelty to animals generally, including both active and passive cruelty. These laws also address the selling or trading of the fur or pelt of a domestic dog or cat, animal fighting and baiting, and maintaining a dangerous animal. 


District of Columbia Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in the District of Columbia consist of the consolidated cruelty statutes in sect. 22-1001 - 1015 of the DC Code, containing the animal cruelty and animal fighting provisions.& sect. 22-1001 sets forth the definition and penalty for animal cruelty. Prior codifications were 1973 sect. 22-801 and 1980 sect. 22-801, designated as such below if applicable & sect. 22-1013 defines "animal" as including all living and sentient beings with the exception of humans. 


Florida Animal Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Title 46 Ch. 828 contains most of Florida’s laws related to animals. There are provisions for both misdemeanor, 828.12(1), and felony, 828.12(2), animal cruelty violations. Euthanasia of a suffering animal may be a complete defense , although the manner in which euthanasia is to be performed is proscribed by law . Local laws may exist, as provided in § 828.27(2), these specific rules are outside the scope of this document, but § 828.27(2) is summarized in the last section. In general, laws are in order of likely relevance, with animal cruelty and abandonment summarized first. 


Georgia Animal Cruelty Laws 
Georgia's criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily in Title 4 (Animals) and Title 16 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Official Code of Georgia. The main anti-cruelty laws in Title 4 can be found in Chapters 8, 11, and 13. Chapters 8 and 13 deal specifically with dogs and equines, respectively. The provisions of Chapter 11, Article 1 ("Georgia Animal Protection Act") encompass a broad range of issues concerning the treatment, care, and licensing of animals. Many of these provisions (particularly those dealing with unlawful acts and with the inspection, seizure, and impound or animals), are discussed below, while others are beyond the scope of this summary. 


Hawaii Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Hawaii are relatively recent and minimal case law interpreting, enforcing, or applying these laws exist. Additionally, because of Hawaii's unique status as an island state, the State has enacted laws allowing the removal or destruction of non-native animals that damage the native Hawaiian habitat. In fact, one can be penalized or imprisoned if one is caught harboring or raising some of these animals. These statutes are older than the criminal animal protection laws, and there may be some possibility for conflict. 


Idaho Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal cruelty laws for the state of Idaho can be found primarily within Title 25 of West's Idaho Code Annotated, Animals, Chapter 35: Animal Care. This document begins with the cruelty to animals statutes in Idaho. The additional statutes in this section include poisoning animals, carrying an animal in a cruel manner and beating and harassing animals, which includes whipping, beating or other malicious treatment of any animal, or harassing any cattle, horses, sheep, or hogs with a dog. The next section contains the animal fighting provisions. The current cockfight statute has been amended and the new statute becomes effective on July 1, 2012. The dogfight statute makes it a felony to knowingly own, possess, train, keep, buy or sell dogs for the purpose of fighting, killing, maiming, or injuring other dogs. It is also a felony to advertise, promote, organize and participate in such exhibitions. Under Idaho law, it is permissible for any officer qualified by law to make arrests to enter the premises where there is an exhibition of fighting birds or animals or where preparations for such events take place and without warrant arrest them all. 


Illinois Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Illinois consist of those in the Humane Care for
Animals and Animal Control Acts as well as various criminal provisions that are not included in either of these Acts. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections of each Act with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that Act. The laws are followed by case law from Illinois and/or other states with similar statutes where available. 


Indiana Animal Cruelty Laws 
Indiana consolidates most of its animal cruelty and neglect statutes within Title 35, Criminal Law and Procedure, Article 46, Miscellaneous Offenses, Chapter 3, Offenses Relating to Animals. There are provisions under other titles as well relating to animal abuse and neglect in different contexts, including domestic violence, commercial animal breeding and sales, humane slaughter of livestock, public health and animal fighting. 
Definitions are common grounds for appeals, although rarely successfully. Indiana courts have held consistently that the abuse and neglect statutes are sufficiently clear in their prohibitions and that several means of proof are admissible to prove each statute. Where definitions, applicability or penalties apply only to a particular article or chapter of law, such is indicated in parentheses next to the title of the statute. 
Animal fighting statutes prohibit not only the staging of such contests, but also attendance, possession of an animal or paraphernalia relating to such contests, and the purchase of an animal for such purposes. 
Livestock statutes in this summary are limited to the means of slaughter. 
Miscellaneous statutes prohibit bestiality, coloring birds or rabbits, removing the vocal cords of an attack dog, using animal cruelty as a means to domestic violence, or harboring a non-immunized dog. 
Wild animals are deemed the property of the state. Statutes pertaining to the taking of wild animals have been excluded, although cruelty laws are applicable to all animals. A town may prohibit the possession of exotic or wild animals for the welfare of the animal or safety of the public. 
Provisions pertaining to animals for sale include restrictions on animal age and care. 
Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, impoundment of animals and permanent loss of custody or possession of the animals. 


Iowa Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal protection laws of Iowa consist of two main chapters, addressing the abuse and neglect of non-livestock and livestock animals, respectively. The state has various additional criminal provisions including laws for the prevention of animal fighting and for the care of animals in commercial establishments. This digest presents each of these animal protection laws along with the relevant procedural laws or defenses, where available. Following each law is case law from Iowa, or from other states with similar statutes where little or no Iowa cases are available. 


Kansas Animal Cruelty Laws 
The primary provisions pertaining to animal cruelty are consolidated within a single statute, § 21-6412. Most additional animal cruelty codes in Kansas are contained in § 21, Crimes Against Public Morals. Statutes related specifically to the humane slaughter of livestock animals are contained in their own chapter, under § 47. A bestiality provision relating specifically to sodomy is also contained within § 21. 


Kentucky Animal Cruelty Laws 
In Kentucky, the majority of the basic animal cruelty and animal fighting laws are contained within Title 525 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. Other titles contain numerous provisions relating to the seizure of roaming dogs lacking identification tags, as well the role of dog wardens and/peace officers in the capture and destruction of such dogs. There are also some additional statutes pertaining to the general inability of veterinarians to obtain immunity in reporting suspected animal abuse, treatment of race horses, and use of reptiles in religious services. Additionally, relevant case law, including Kentucky Attorney General opinions, has been included where it affects the interpretation of listed statutes. 


Louisiana Animal Cruelty Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Louisiana are contained primarily within Title 14, specifically § 14:102.1. However, there are a number of laws related to animal cruelty and defined elsewhere within the Louisiana Revised Statutes Annotated. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from Louisiana follows each law. This document begins with the general animal cruelty statutes and then addresses related statutes involving corporations for prevention of animal cruelty, animal research facilities, photographs of cruelty and assistance dogs. The general animal cruelty statutes cover a range of issues including dogfighting, dangerous dog provisions, euthanasia standards and various penalties, punishments, and enforcements. 


Maine Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Maine's prohibitions against cruelty to animals fall within a comprehensive statutory framework. Central prohibitions are listed in this document, and discussed in the following order: 
Title 7 - Agriculture and Animals
Chapter 717 - Animal Welfare Act, 7 M.R.S.A. §§ 3901 - 10-B.
Chapter 739 - Cruelty to Animals, 7 M.R.S.A. §§ 4011-19.
See also Chapter 731 - Mistreatment of Animals, 7 M.R.S.A. § 3971-72 (concerning vivisection and unlawful use). 
Title 17 - Crimes
Chapter 42 - Animal Welfare (Subchapters 1-4), 17 M.R.S.A. §§ 1011-46. 


Maryland Animal Cruelty Summary 
Maryland’s criminal animal protection laws consist of the consolidated statutes in § 10-601 through § 10-623 of the Criminal Code. These sections consist of the general cruelty statutes as well as animal fighting statutes and specific statutes meant to protect specific types of animals. Under these statutes, an animal is “any creature except a human being.” General animal cruelty is set out in § 10-604, while aggravated animal cruelty is § 10-606. There is also another statute in a separate section of the Criminal Code barring bestiality and a statute in the Agriculture Code that provides criminal punishment for the improper slaughter of cattle. While Maryland has a number of statutes protecting animals, there is very little case law regarding prosecutions and many of the cases available were pursued under prior versions of the statute. Where prior versions of the code are relevant, they are noted below. 


Massachusetts Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Massachusetts can be found throughout various chapters and titles of Part I, "Administration of the Government," and Part IV, "Crimes, Punishments, and Proceedings in Criminal Cases." The criminal animal protection provisions in Part I consist of those in Titles XIX, "Agriculture and Conservation," and XX, "Public Safety and Good Order." Most of Massachusetts' animal protection laws, however, are located in Title I, "Crimes and Punishments," of Part IV. This digest lists each animal protection law and, where available, Massachusetts Case Law and Attorney General Opinions, as well as case law from other states with similar statutes. 


Michigan Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Michigan can be found throughout various parts of the Penal, Animal Industry, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, and Health Codes. The Michigan Penal Code, “Animals,” § 750.49 – .70 contains most of these laws. In addition, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protections laws cover discharge of substances injurious to animals and the Health Codes govern veterinary reporting. The Animal Industry laws regulate pet shop owners, breeders and the use of animals in research. This digest lists each animal protection law and, where available, Michigan Case Law. 


Minnesota Animal Cruelty Laws 
In Minnesota, criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily within the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Chapter of Police Regulations. There are also other laws related to animal cruelty and defined elsewhere within the Minnesota Statutes. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections of each law with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from Minnesota will follow. Please note that the case law cited are primarily unpublished opinions. This document begins with the general animal cruelty statutes and then addresses related statutes involving animal fighting and use of animals as prizes or in advertising. The miscellaneous section includes a bestiality provision and cruelty provisions related to public safety and police animals. 


Mississippi Animal Protection Laws 
Mississippi consolidates most of its animal cruelty and abuse statutes within Title 97, Crimes, under Chapter 41, Cruelty to Animals. Title 97 also includes a prohibition against bestiality under Chapter 29, Crimes Against Morals and Decency, and against failing to isolate animals known to carry certain infectious diseases under Chapter 27, Crimes Affecting Public Health. This document presents Chapter 41 in its entirety and the relevant sections of chapters 29 and 27, including a summary of any relevant case law. 


Missouri Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Missouri's animal protection statutes consist of the Consolidated Cruelty statutes, animal baiting and fighting statutes, and other offenses. The bulk of the statutes are contained within Chapter 578, Miscellaneous Offenses . Sections 578.005 through 578.050 cover animal abuse, neglect, and animal fighting offenses. Sections 578.170 through 578.179 contain additional statutes covering baiting and fighting of animals. Other statutes cover harm to service animals and bear wrestling. This document lists the statutes followed by relevant case law from Missouri, where available. Cases from other states are also included where laws are similar. A brief overview of Missouri's sentencing guidelines can be found on the final page of this document. 


Montana Animal Cruelty Laws 
Montana's animal protection laws can be found in Title 45 (Crimes) and Title 81 (Livestock). Title 45 contains statutes that define the offenses of animal cruelty (45-8-211) and aggravated animal cruelty (45-8-217), and provides penalties for harming a police dog (45-8-209) and animal-fighting (45-8-210). Title 81 contains a statute that controls the killing of dogs that harass, destroy or injure livestock (81-7-401) as well as statutes prohibiting aerial hunting (81-7-501) and harassing livestock (81-7-506). Title 81 also contains a description of unlawful acts regarding animal facilities (81-30-103), actions for damages (81-30-104) and penalties (81-30-105). 


Nebraska Animal Cruelty Laws 
The majority of Nebraska’s animal laws are located within Chapter 28, entitled “Crimes and Punishments;” however, the laws relating to livestock are located within Chapter 54, entitled “Livestock.” Nebraska’s animal laws primarily focus on animal fighting, cruelty and neglect, and indecency with animals, but other laws also govern the sale of young puppies and kittens and the mistreatment of a service animal. This summary begins with the animal fighting provisions and proceeds to cruelty and neglect, laws dealing with mistreatment of service animals, indecency with animals, sale of puppies and kittens, and finally treatment of livestock


Nevada Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal cruelty laws for the state of Nevada can be found primarily within Title 50 of West's Nevada Revised Statutes Annotated, Animals, Chapter 574: Cruelty to Animals: Prevention and Penalties, Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This document begins with Nevada's animal cruelty and neglect provisions. This section also provides felony charges for the mistreatment of a police animal, including interfering with the animal's duties and misdemeanor charges for allowing a dog or cat to remain unattended in a vehicle during periods of extreme heat or cold that may endanger their health or safety. The second section of this document includes Nevada's animal fighting statutes. The following section also allows for an officer of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, who is authorized to make arrests, to take possession of any animals being treated cruelly. The statute provides that the officer must provide shelter and care or may destroy the animal in a humane manner upon receiving permission from the owner. In cases where an animal is seized under these conditions, notice must be given or mailed to the owner immediately upon ascertaining their location. These provisions do not apply to any animals found on land being used for agricultural use. 


New Hampshire Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
New Hampshire criminal protection laws are found in chapter 644. This document includes animal cruelty, fighting and protection statutes as well as relevant case law if available. The document also includes examples of animal cruelty cases from the website PetAbuse.com 


New Jersey Animal Cruelty Laws 
In New Jersey, criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily within Title 4, the Cruelty to Animal laws. There are also other laws related to animal cruelty and defined elsewhere within the New Jersey Statutes Annotated. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections of each law with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from New Jersey follows each law. 


New Mexico Animal Cruelty Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in New Mexico are contained within Article 18 of Chapter 30. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When applicable, relevant case law from New Mexico follows each law. This document begins with the general animal cruelty statutes and then addresses related statutes such as those involving unlawful use or confinement of animals, animal fighting, and laws pertaining to livestock


New York Animal Cruelty Laws 
New York's criminal animal protection laws are primarily contained in Article 26 of New York's Agriculture and Markets Law (§ 331 - 379), which also contains other more specific provisions related to treatment of animals as well as regulations for animal involved businesses and products derived from animals. There are also other laws related to animal cruelty elsewhere in New York law and they are included in this document as well. This document lists the animal protection laws in place in New York, current as of 2012. When available, relevant New York case law follows the statute listed. This summary begins with the general definitions and more general criminal animal cruelty statutes, follows with the more specific criminal animal cruelty provisions, and ends with the laws related to enforcement. Civil penalties or violations have not been included. 


North Carolina Animal Cruelty Laws 
In North Carolina, criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily in §§14-360 through14-363. However, there are also other laws related to animal cruelty in the North Carolina General Statutes. This document lists each animal protection law currently in place and the procedural sections of each case law that North Carolina follows from each law. This summary begins with the basic cruelty to animal statute and moves on to immunity for veterinarians reporting animal cruelty, instigating cruelty, abandonment, cockfighting, dog fighting, baiting, cruel restraint, cruel conveyance, living baby chicks, rabbits under eight weeks of age, novelties forbidden, confiscation of cruelly treated animals, prohibitions on computer-assisted remote hunting, treatment of endangered species, and other unlawful acts toward animals. 


North Dakota Animal Cruelty Laws 
Nearly all of North Dakota’s animal laws are located in Title 36 of the North Dakota Statutes, entitled “Livestock”, but there is also a provision in Title 12 for killing or injuring a law enforcement animal. North Dakota’s animal laws deal primarily with cruelty, neglect, abandonment, and abuse, with other laws that govern advertising and sale of animals and animal fighting. This summary begins with general cruelty and neglect provisions and moves through animal fighting, advertising and sale of animals, killing of law enforcement animals, ownership of skunks or raccoons, immunity to the statutes, and penalties for violation of the statutes. Applicable case law follows each statute where available. 


Ohio Animal Cruelty Laws 
Ohio has general and specific criminal animal cruelty statutes. The general statutes are Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 959.13, Cruelty to Animals, and § 959.131, Cruelty against Companion Animals. There are statutes that address more narrowly defined crimes, such as poisoning animals, although these are rarely used. Nearly all of Ohio’s animal cruelty statutes can be located in Title IX. Agriculture—Animals—Fences. The statutes and relevant case law cited throughout this document pertain specifically to domestic animals, wild animals, and livestock animals in accordance with the language of a given statute. 


Oklahoma Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal cruelty laws for the state of Oklahoma can be found primarily within Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes Annotated, Crimes and Punishments, Part VII: Crimes Against Property, Chapter 67: Injuries to Animals. This act is known as the Animal Facilities Protection Act. OK ST T. 21 §1680. The main focus of this act is the prohibition of animal cruelty and animal fighting. Animal cruelty in Oklahoma is defined as the willful or malicious torturing, destruction or killing of an animal. This also includes cruelly beating, injuring, maiming or mutilating an animal, regardless of whether it is wild or tame or whether it belongs to the person perpetrating the violence or someone else. In addition, the deprivation of necessary food, drink, shelter or veterinary care to prevent suffering to an animal is also considered animal cruelty. Animal cruelty carries a felony charge and can be punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a term not exceeding five years, , imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars. 


Oregon Animal Cruelty Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Oregon are contained primarily in Title 16, “Crimes and Punishments”, under Chapter 167, “Offenses Against Public Health, Decency and Animals”. Most of the relevant provisions, including the crimes and procedural matters, are found in the Oregon Revised Statutes “Offenses Against Animals,” Sections 167.310-.390. The penalties for the offenses are described in Chapter 161, “General Provisions”, of Title 16. There are exemptions written both within some statutes and in a separate statute. A separate provision, Chapter 686, defines the obligations and penalties of veterinarians. 


Pennsylvania Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Pennsylvania consist mainly of those in the Cruelty to Animals statute. This document lists each provision in the Cruelty to Animals statute and the procedural sections with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that Act. This document also addresses animal protection laws that are not included in the Cruelty to Animals statute. Each of the laws is followed by case law from Pennsylvania, and/or other states with similar statutes, where available. 


Rhode Island Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Rhode Island laws pertaining to animal care and licensing can be found in Title 4 Animals and Animal Husbandry. This document sets out laws pertaining to animal cruelty, humane care of animals, and treatment of animals at state rodeos followed by interpretive case law. Case law from other jurisdictions with similar animal cruelty laws is referenced where Rhode Island case law is lacking. Other laws pertaining to the humane treatment of animals can be found in Animals and Animal Husbandry chapters 19 and 20. Chapter 19 deals with the protection of owners of pets from the sale and use of stolen pets. The chapter also provides guidelines for pet shop owners, transporters, and animal shelters for providing humane care and treatment of animals while in their possession. Chapter 20 sets out guidelines and criteria for rodeo and rodeo-related events to ensure the humane treatment of rodeo animals and livestock in the state. 


South Carolina Animal Cruelty Laws 
In South Carolina, the majority of the basic animal cruelty laws are contained within Title 47 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Title 16, which encompasses crimes and offenses, includes the Animal Fighting and Baiting Act. The State has comprehensive wildlife protection laws, which are enumerated in Title 50. 


South Dakota Animal Cruelty Laws 
In South Dakota, criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily within the Cruelty, Abuse and Injury to Animals Chapter of Title 40, Animals and Livestock. There is also a bestiality provision under the Sex Offenses Chapter of Title 22, Crimes. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections of each law with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from South Dakota will follow. This document begins with the general animal cruelty statutes and then addresses related statutes involving animal fighting, dangerous animals and diseased or fatally injured animals. The general animal cruelty statutes are broken up into intentional acts and neglect. Besides the bestiality provision, statutes related to treatment of livestock and service animals can be found under the miscellaneous section of this document. Exemptions include regulated scientific experiments using live animals and the destruction of dangerous animals. 


Tennessee Animal Cruelty Laws 
This summary begins with § 39-14-202, which addresses cruelty to animals. It divides cruelty to animals in categories that include torture, neglect (failure to provide adequate food, water, care, or shelter), abandonment, improper transportation, harm related to competition, and harmful restraint. About half of the cases address torture, resulting from, e.g., beating a dog, shooting a dog, untreated illness, and unsanitary conditions. The other half of the cases address neglect, resulting from, e.g., putting too many horses on a small pasture, keeping dogs in an unsanitary kennel with inadequate food and water, and untreated illnesses. § 39-14-201 defines terms used in § 39-14-202, such as torture. Neglect of a dog’s injuries is an example of torture. 
§ 39-14-203 prohibits involvement in any aspect of animal fighting, including being a spectator, keeping or training an animal for fighting, or permitting an animal fight to take place on one’s premises. In most cases, the guilty parties are caught in the dog fighting episodes. 
According to § 39-14-205, intentional killing of animals is prohibited, unless the animal poses imminent serious harm. Convictions usually result from shooting a dog. 
The remaining provisions address specific animals or issues, including dyed baby fowl or rabbits (§ 39-14-204), impounded animals (§ 39-14-207), guide dogs (§ 39-14-208), horse shows (§ 39-14-209), livestock (§ 39-14-211), removal of electronic or radio dog collar or microchip implant (§ 39-14-213), sexual activity with animals (§ 39-14-214), emergency care (§ 39-14-215), aggravated cruelty to livestock (§ 39-14-217), and the Farm Animal and Research Facilities Protection Act (§§ 39-14-802-06). 


Texas Criminal Animal Protection Laws 
Criminal animal protection laws in Texas consist primarily of four provisions of the Texas Penal Code which cover cruelty to livestock and nonlivestock animals, attacks on assistance animals and dog fighting. This document sets out each of these laws and highlights relevant case law developments for each. 


Utah Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal cruelty laws for the state of Utah can be found primarily within Title 76 of West’s Utah Code Annotated, Utah Criminal Code, Chapter 9: Offenses Against Public Order and Decency, Part 3: Cruelty to Animals. This document begins with the general provisions and definitions for animal cruelty within the state of Utah. 


Vermont Animal Cruelty Laws 
Vermont statutes provide protection for animals against killing, beating, and inhumane confinement. They include basic requirements for shelter, exercise, care, and sanitation. Importantly, though, these cruelty laws are not applicable to agricultural animals. However, there are extensive laws governing the transport of animals and these do apply to agricultural animals. The transport laws include a provision making it illegal to leave an animal in a parked car in unsafe conditions. Furthermore, the law bans animal fighting and extends liability to anyone viewing such fights, and also bans the shooting of birds for amusement. The law also prohibits leaving poison on one's land for the purpose of killing animals, with an exception for pests. The killing of suspected rabid dogs and wolf-hybrids is legal. Additionally, there is a special provision forbidding the sale of dyed chicks. Lastly, there is no specific provision against bestiality, but the statutes prohibiting child sexual abuse define sexual conduct to include bestiality. 


Virginia Animal Cruelty Laws 
In Virginia, criminal animal protection laws are contained primarily within Title 3.2, the Comprehensive Animal Care laws, which include the state's anti-cruelty and animal fighting provisions. However, there are also other laws related to animal cruelty defined elsewhere within the Code of Virginia. This document lists each animal protection law currently in place and the procedural sections of each law with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from Virginia follows each law. This summary begins with the basic cruelty to animal statute and moves on to the neglect of companion animals, followed by relative statutes involving abandonment, animal fighting, and sexual assault. The remaining portion of the summary details penalties, punishments, and enforcement. 


Washington Animal Cruelty Laws 
The criminal animal cruelty laws for the state of Washington can be found primarily within Title 16 of West’s Revised Code of Washington, Animals and Livestock, Chapter 16.52: Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 


West Virginia Animal Cruelty Laws 
Several parts of the West Virginia Code deal with animal cruelty. These laws can be divided into five categories: those dealing with humane officers, general animal cruelty, dog and cats, hunting, and the humane slaughter of livestock. 


Wisconsin Animal Cruelty Laws 
A significant number of Wisconsin's animal cruelty statutes are contained within Chapter 951 of Wisconsin's Statutes and Court Rules, Crimes Against Animals. The statute begins with definitions and an overview of appropriate construction and application of animal cruelty laws, followed by a broad statute, §951.02, on the general mistreatment of animals. Contained within Chapter 951 is a wide array of animal cruelty and neglect laws, concerning everything from transportation of animals to animal fighting to professional animals as well as domestic animals and the sale of animals. Additional provisions relating to animal cruelty in Wisconsin can be found within Chapter 173, Animals; Humane Officers. There are additional laws on animal fighting and the sale of animals, as well as a number of statutes pertaining to animals in custody. Finally, the law regarding humane slaughter of livestock animals is located in Chapter 95, Animal Health and the law regarding bestiality is located in Chapter 944, Crimes against Sexual Morality. Penalties for animal crimes are located in Chapters 95 and 951. 


Wyoming Animal Cruelty Laws 
Wyoming has a consolidated animal cruelty provision within Chapter 3 of Title 6. This provision includes a new offense of “household pet animal cruelty.” Wyoming has separate provisions concerning cruelty to livestock in Chapter 29 of Title 11, as well as additional animal cruelty-related provisions in Title 11. This document lists each animal protection law and the procedural sections with which officers must comply when enforcing a provision of that law. When available, relevant case law from Wyoming follows each law.