Kennel Operators Plead Guilty To Conspiracy And Mail Fraud In Dog Sales
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Floyd and Susan Martin, of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, d/b/a Chestnut Grove Kennel, entered guilty pleas today before U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, in Harrisburg.
Pursuant to the terms of written plea agreements, Floyd Martin entered a plea of guilty to one count of mail fraud. Susan Martin entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy. The plea agreements also specify that Floyd and Susan Martin are jointly and severally liable for restitution in the amount of $300,000.
The charges stem from an investigation initiated in February 2009 by the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, and Animal Care. According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the Martins were charged with the unlawful procurement of hundreds of random sourced dogs by unnamed co-conspirators, and the subsequent resale of those dogs to medical research facilities by Floyd and Susan Martin, d/b/a Chestnut Grove Kennel.
The indictment alleged that the defendants conspired to circumvent federal regulations, which place limitations on the number of allowable sales of dogs, by stealing the identities of multiple individuals and falsifying federal documents.
U.S. Attorney Smith said that activities such as those alleged in the indictment will be investigated and prosecuted by his office: “This kind of alleged conduct constitutes a cruel fraud on dog owners and mistreatment of animals as well as showing a flagrant disregard for the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s program to ensure that such animals are treated properly and safely.”
Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years imprisonment for mail fraud and 5 years imprisonment for conspiracy, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.