One of the founders of Woofin Palooza, which posed as a pet rescue and adoption organization in Multnomah and Columbia counties in Oregon, pleaded guilty on Friday to defrauding more of 280 customers by concealing that the animals to be adopted had medical and behavioral problems.
Tori Lynn Head, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and distributing pet medication without proper labeling.
Head, who is still not in custody, will be sentenced Nov. 18 before U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez in federal court in Portland.
Assistant US Attorney Ethan Knight said Woofin Palooza also collected more than $82,000 in “simulated” adoption fees, saying the fees were necessary to obtain the boarders’ pets.
In fact, many animals were sick or had behavioral issues and required additional veterinary care costing more than $142,580, Knight said.
Head and others also demanded customers pay more than $23,000 in spay or neuter fees, saying the company would reimburse those who adopted the pets after the procedures were completed. Still, those refunds haven’t happened, according to Knight.
In addition, Head and others ordered drugs in Florida and Nebraska using fraudulent prescriptions and obtained drugs that were prescribed to pets in Merced, Calif., according to the government.
Head and others mixed the drugs in bottles and did not tell customers what was really inside, mislabeling the bottles, Knight said.
The fraud occurred from December 2019 to January 2021, authorities said.
Head also faces a separate indictment in Multnomah County Circuit Court with more than 200 animal abuse and neglect charges, alleging that Woofin Palooza improperly housed and confined more than 100 dogs and cats. The indictment in state court was filed in May against Head and his co-owner Samantha Miller, 52. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges against the state.
Multnomah County Animal Services launched an investigation in the summer of 2020 after receiving complaints about the Portland business, located in the 2300 block of northeast 82nd Avenue. The agency conducted an inspection on August 1, 2020 and found dogs crammed into dirty kennels and unsanitary conditions.
Miller has a federal civil lawsuit pending against the county, arguing that the Woofin Palooza investigation was prompted by county animus toward the landlords and that the business owners committed no crime.
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