By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

State Vet Board Fines Buddies for No License at Animal Shelter; Carletti Sanctioned on ‘Controlled Dangerous Substance’ Violations

July 28, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

A CECIL TIMES SPECIAL REPORT

The state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has fined A Buddy for Life, which handles animal control for Cecil County under a more than $2.25 million contract, for operating its rented animal shelter in Elkton without a required state license for a year. The state panel also imposed fines and license sanctions involving drug laws against Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian who provides services and has financial ties to the Buddy group.

Meanwhile, a dog, “Brittany”– that mauled a woman providing the Buddies-owned dog with a temporary foster home and that killed her pet Chihuahua with such violence that its eyeball flew out of its socket– was recently offered for adoption again by the group in online postings without mentioning the pet’s death or the violent attack on the woman.

And in its latest financial reports to the county, the Buddies have found yet another fiscal gimmick to try to justify the $60,000 a month the county gives the group: claiming IRS car usage reimbursement rates for use of a personal vehicle for business purposes. But the county owns the two trucks it bought for the Buddies, who only pay $1 a year each to lease them.

In general terms, County Executive Tari Moore told Cecil Times, she thinks the Buddies are “doing a good job on animal control,” but “improvements” need to be made on the animal handling/animal rescue side of the operation and county officials are considering possible remedies. She said she was aware of the group’s new ads promoting adoption of Brittany.

In documents recently obtained by Cecil Times, the state vet board imposed a $750 fine against Crystal Litteral, who is a co-director of the Buddy group in its animal control operations but is the only person named on the county government contract, filings with the Internal Revenue Service, and a newly-issued veterinary hospital license for the Buddies’ animal shelter in Elkton. Under a final consent order issued by the vet board 4/15/14, the panel levied the fine against Litteral, as the “owner” of the Buddies, for operating without a required veterinary hospital license for most of 2013. After the vet board launched its investigation, the Buddies finally obtained the required license last December.

A license is needed if drugs, medications and vaccines are stored and/or administered at an animal facility. The Board concluded that since it was a first offense and Litteral paid the fine promptly that no further action would be taken. The Board could have suspended the license or placed the facility or Litteral on probation but chose not to do so.

The vet board took much stronger action against Carletti for violations of “state and federal law” involving “controlled dangerous substances” at her animal hospital in Perryville, All Paws. Carletti is closely aligned with the Buddies, provides veterinary services to the group, personally posted the financial bond required to bid on the animal control contract with the county government, and filed papers with the state as the Buddies’ “resident agent” for legal purposes.

The board imposed a $3,000 fine and suspended her veterinary license for a week, but then suspended $2,000 of the fine and stayed the license suspension, while putting her on probation with the state for six months. If the board concludes the probation is not completed to its satisfaction, the rest of the fine and the license suspension could be re-imposed.

In a 6/27/14 “consent order” issued by the board and signed by Carletti in accepting the board’s decision, the Vet Board concluded that its investigation of Carletti’s records and operations showed that during a three-year period—2010, 2011 and 2012– Carletti failed “to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws …pertaining to Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS.)”

By signing the order, the board said that Carletti, while “denying liability in this case,” nevertheless was “acknowledging that the Board has sufficient evidence to find, as fact, and conclude as a matter of law” that she “failed to ensure that all CDS were maintained, administered, prescribed, dispensed and destroyed in compliance with state and federal laws.” The order stated that the violations involved “CDS medications that were not supported by medical records as being associated with an appropriate veterinarian-client-patient relationship.”

Asked if the violations of “state and federal law” cited in the board’s order against Carletti were also referred to any other state or federal law enforcement agency, Laura Downes, executive director of the board, told Cecil Times, “My understanding is that federal agencies had been privy to the situation that gave rise to this but they have not pursued action against her.”

Veterinarians are required to hold a special permit from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to obtain and dispense CDS. Controlled drugs can include tranquilizers, pain-killers and euthanasia chemicals.

Cecil Times obtained the vet board orders against Litteral and Carletti under the state’s public information act. The board only provided the final consent orders and denied our request for related documents, including charging documents voted on by the board and which would have been the basis of a hearing. Carletti initially asked for a hearing, which would have ultimately resulted in a public paper trail of the proceedings and the board’s case against her, but then she dropped her hearing request and signed a consent agreement with the board.

State public information law governing the vet board provides that the panel must disclose “any orders and findings that result from formal disciplinary actions.” Downes said that the board considers the brief summary of facts included in the final order as constituting the “findings” that must be disclosed. Cecil Times will be filing an appeal to seek disclosure of the details of the board’s investigation and “findings” that formed the basis of the board’s decision to impose sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Buddies recently posted an online ad promoting adoption of “Brittany,” a Rottweiler mix dog, with a picture that was confirmed as the same dog by eyewitnesses to the presence of the dog in the home of the woman who was attacked last December. The new posting stated that the dog had some “food aggression” issues but did not mention the fatal attack on the small dog or the mauling of the woman, who required multiple stitches to close the deep wounds on her arm and treatment with antibiotics.

“Brittany” was placed under a 10-day quarantine after the attack and thereafter apparently moved across state lines to Delaware. The Buddies failed to include any mention of the attack in their required reports to the Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission (ACCOC) as required by county law. When questioned about the incident at a February meeting, the Buddies claimed it was an “oversight” that they failed to provide the information as required. [See previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/02/cecil-county-animal-control-group-claims-oversight-on-secrfecy-of-fatal-dog-attack-claims-big-taxpayer-costs-for-a-day-of-care-state-probe-continues/ ]

Asked by Cecil Times recently if the Buddies had yet to provide the required report on the Brittany incident, Lyn Yelton, chair of the ACCOC, said the group still had not complied.

The county’s animal law—which was largely re-written by Carletti who was allowed by then-County Commissioners to scrap most of the proposed law changes drafted by a broad oversight panel that worked on revisions for nearly two years—provides that the animal control contractor must disclose to the ACCOC “all reports of animal bites” including involvement of other agencies, such as the health department that oversees a quarantine and report the “results in each such case…”

Failure to provide the oversight panel with “complete and adequate documentation” of all required reports “constitutes a breach of contract and shall be grounds for termination,” county law states. Furthermore, failure to provide all required reports to the oversight panel “shall result in a non-refundable five percent reduction” in the next county-paid monthly fee to the animal control contractor, the law states.

The Brittany bite/attack report was due in January. County taxpayers pay the Buddies $60,000 a month, so a $3,000 penalty reduction should have been made, but wasn’t, to the following month’s county payment. The law is unclear if continued failure to provide a required report to the ACCOC should result in continued penalties for each subsequent month for which a required report still has not been provided.

County officials have had numerous options to cancel the Buddies contract, including the failure to have a required state license for nearly a year as reported repeatedly by Cecil Times, but the current administration has declined to do so.

In the final hours of its existence before the transition to Charter government in late 2012, the old “Three Amigos” majority of the County Commissioners suddenly extended a public Request for Proposal that had set an 18-month animal control contract term to a three-year contract—without public hearings, a revised RFP or advance notice to the public of the change. Moore was sworn into office as county executive three days later. The contract provides that it may be terminated by the county for any reason.

The ACCOC oversight panel is scheduled to meet on Wednesday 7/30/14 at 7 p.m. in the Elk Room on the first floor of the County Administration building in Elkton. The meeting is open to the public.

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15 Responses to State Vet Board Fines Buddies for No License at Animal Shelter; Carletti Sanctioned on ‘Controlled Dangerous Substance’ Violations

  1. determinedcitizen on July 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    When is enough enough?

    These people appear to be unethical, dishonest and incompetent, in my opinion.

  2. Jeannette H on July 28, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Wonderful reporting Cecil Times but once again the county executive has her head in the sand. What’s it going to take for Tari Moore to do her job? If the Executive is unwilling to abide by and enforce the laws, what message does that send to the taxpayers of this county?

    It’s not a wonder why she flip flopped from Republican to independent and then back to Republican. she is acting like she doesn’t believes in anything much, other than covering for Carletti and Buddy’s who are NOT doing a good job with animal control. I guess doing nothing to perform your job is acceptable to all in County Government. Why don’t you do your jobs and terminate the contract.

    These incompetents see nothing wrong with adopting out a viscious, dangerous dog that has already attacked, mauled and killed. Leopards do not change their spots. Mrs. Moore, you and I both know that you are intentionally ignoring a huge number of complaints called directly to your office; mine being only one of many.

    • Joe C on July 31, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Jeannette,
      You are correct that Tari Moore does not follow the law, just look at the Tier Map situation. She refuses to abide by the law, like it or not, and now I understand is threating to sue the state. Interesting since she and her Posse attacked Diana Broomell for lawsuits. Pot calling the Kettle black.

      • Rick O'Shea on August 1, 2014 at 7:56 am

        Joe C, Any comment on this story? I would like to see your attempt to defend Carletti and the Buddies for Life. This contract was one of the Broomell- led Three Amigo debacles.

  3. Too Much Government on July 28, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I wonder how many of Carletti’s supporters are going to be comfortable with this drug charge by the state Board…Three years of the findings wasn’t just a one-time mistake. Are you kidding, a 1 week suspension and a small fine? … This has got to be a joke since those in our government seem to be so concerned about drug abuse in this county. Will our county gov’t turn a blind eye to this, as they have to all the complaints about the Buddy For Life from citizens and people who volunteered there? She and her Buddy’s should have been fired and fined by now.

  4. Rick O'Shea on July 29, 2014 at 6:42 am

    The contract should be terminated ASAP.

    • Joe C on July 31, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      OK, Rick,
      What do you propose to replace it with? Specifics please!

      • Rick O'Shea on August 1, 2014 at 7:51 am

        Needed: a competent vendor with no connection to Carletti or Buddies for Life.

        • Hidlins on August 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

          AMEN I’m with you Rick!

  5. Wow on July 29, 2014 at 11:43 am

    The subject of the article is shocking enough, but to have this published as is, atrocious. I want to take a red pen to it and mail it back to the reporter and editor for corrections.

    • Rick O'Shea on July 30, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Please share your top three items needing correction.

      • Politics for Dummies on August 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

        The only thing anyone needs to take a red pen to, edit and mail back is the financial/incident reports filed by A Buddy For Life! There are more holes in their reports than Swiss cheese. If only they were like Pinnochio. Yep, making a joke because that is what this organization is: a big joke.

    • Jeannette H on July 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      OK, “Wow”– what is atrocious about printing the facts? This is public record, not science fiction. Please do educate us on what you think is wrong or do you have some inside information that isn’t in the public record. If so, where did you get it?

  6. Politics for Dummies on July 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I sure hope that my tax dollars are not paying for Crystal Litteral’s fine. It seems we’ve paid for just about everything else and then some … We’ve also paid for things that should have been in place prior to A Buddy For Life being awarded such a lucrative contract (e.g. Animal Control Officers, vehicles, licenses , a shelter.)

    If you look at the financial statements, which are available to the public, you can do the Math. A 1st grader could do the Math and see that things just don’t add up. We are being charged champagne prices for homemade beer. All those preaching No Kill, best thing to hit Cecil County, yadda yadda probably never spent a day watching the overpaid staff sitting on Facebook and playing computer games while volunteers cleaned up poop and attended to hungry, lonely animals’ needs.

    Not to mention trying to recruit children to clean, for free (woo hoo) while being exposed to the plethora of diseases in that facility – - ringworm, URI’s, calcivirus, just to name a few. Now, the Wizard behind the curtain is also [sanctioned] for controlled dangerous substances… Hey, maybe you should give some of those pain meds to the animals at Buddy For Life – you know, the ones that really need it and could benefit from it! Nah, that would cut into the profit.

    And we wonder why we are the butt of so many jokes. This County is one big joke! I think some politicians need to get their act together but it might be too late. People are starting to see your true colors and hopefully will remind you when it comes time to decide who we want representing us here in Cecil County. We all deserve better!

  7. Laura on August 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Why hasn’t anyone– including our county executive– followed up on the law that says the Buddy for Life should have been fined $3,000 a month for not telling the truth about that horrible attack by their dog Brittany? Taxpayers are already paying this group too much money, but if they violate the law then they should have to pay the consequences. Taxpayers could have saved $3,000 times 6 months= $18,000!

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