PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

News

Former puppy store owner faces more than 100 charges

By From page A2 | January 6, 2011

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — El Dorado County prosecutors have filed a 27-page, 112-count criminal complaint against former Broc’s Puppies operator Dennis Franks.

In the Dec. 16 complaint, El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe charged Franks, 51, with 65 felony counts of grand theft by false pretense, 27 felony counts of forgery and one felony count of grand theft.

The complaint also charges Franks with seven misdemeanor counts of running an unlicensed veterinary practice, seven misdemeanor counts of destroying or concealing evidence, two misdemeanor counts of being a pet shop owner who failed to care for animals, two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and one misdemeanor count of being a pet shop owner who sold sick or injured animals.

The charges arise from Franks’ receipt or sale of 75 puppies between January 2008 and June 2009, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that Franks sold puppies with veterinary documents containing knowingly forged signatures of South Shore veterinarian Henry Kostecki and sold puppies he knew had giardia. The complaint also alleges that Franks gave puppies medicine to treat the intestinal infection, which would return after the dogs left the store.

The complaint also states Franks knowingly sold dogs with luxating patella, a condition where a dog’s kneecap is dislocated. The condition can be painful and require surgery.

Several accounts of puppies that died shortly after being purchased from Broc’s are included in the document.

One died the day after being bought; another, an English Bulldog, died two weeks after being bought for the second time. The previous purchaser of the puppy had returned the dog because it was sick, according to the complaint.

Franks also allegedly destroyed forged veterinarian records to keep them out of the hands of El Dorado County Animal Services officers and falsely represented dogs at the store were bred by a licensed U.S. Department of Agriculture breeder, according to the complaint.

Franks’ attorney John Castellanos said he had yet to receive discovery in the case and could not comment on specifics of the charges. He said the size of the complaint is unusual for Lake Tahoe and additional charges have been pending for more than a year.

“That’s been unfortunate for Mr. Franks. He’s been sitting in limbo,” Castellanos said. In February, then-City Councilman Bill Crawford criticized the delay in prosecution, saying, “When justice is delayed it is too often denied.”

Uthe defended the District Attorney’s Office’s handling of the case in a written report that month, saying county prosecutors have some of the heaviest caseloads in the state. At the time, he said investigations into matters such as Jaycee Lee Dugard and murdered teenager Richard Swanson took precedence over the puppy store.

Uthe did not return a request for comment Tueday.

Franks is free on his own recognizance. Court documents do not list an address. Broc’s Puppies was evicted from its 2291 Lake Tahoe Blvd. location in May 2010.

Franks also faces misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, failing to care for an animal and obstructing police officer charges from a separate July 2009 criminal complaint. The charges stem from an incident where Franks allegedly refused to give a Shetland sheep dog puppy proper veterinary care and was evasive when questioned by a county Animal Services officer.

Franks also faces several small claims suits from former customers.

A phone number previously used to reach Franks is no longer in service. He has previously denied wrongdoing.

Franks is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges Feb. 7.

Tahoe Tribune

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