I-Team: Investigation into animal shelter deaths, bigger, more complex than expected

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Detectives have revived an investigation into the suspicious deaths of animals at the Boulder City Animal Shelter. 

The shelter was under investigation months ago, but a police administrator allegedly buried the report without pursuing criminal charges against the former director of the shelter.
   
However, once the public heard about the probe, Boulder City reversed its position and started looking into the claims again. 

A criminal investigation was launched in April against Mary Jo Frazier; she’s the former director of the Boulder City Animal Shelter.  A co-worker told police Frazier routinely ordered dogs, cats, and other animals be euthanized without the approval of an outside vet as required by city ordinance.  The co-worker said Frazier also didn’t wait the mandatory five days before euthanizing the animals.

Boulder Detective Dave Olson’s affidavit reports that as many as 91 animal deaths ordered by Frazier in one year were suspicious.  Olson says many of the animals were killed the same day they came into the shelter.

According to the report, Frazier singled out large dogs, especially animals that were a pit bull mix.  Olson recommended felony charges for torturing or killing the animals, along with dozens of misdemeanor counts.

However, in other records obtained from the shelter by the 8 News NOW I-Team — the true total amount of suspicious animal deaths counted by police exceeded 1,300 over the last few years.  The statute of limitations has expired for most of the cases.

The report even listed the names of 665 of the animals. 

According to the report, Frazier’s co-workers said she seemed to enjoy killing or ‘sticking animals,’ as she called it.  They told the detective Frazier even went as far as to stop online animal adoption ads.

However, when Olson submitted his affidavit to the department, the Boulder City Police Administrator Bill Conger declined to pursue any charges.

The report said, instead, Conger used the report to coax Frazier into quietly retiring.

“It just defies all common sense and logic as to why anybody would think you could sweep something of this magnitude, under the carpet, thinking it’s just going to go away,” said Tom Finn, former Boulder City Police Chief.

Finn is directly responsible for the media firestorm over the shelter. Finn says he spent months trying to squeeze public documents out of Boulder City before he sent the material to the Review-Journal and other media outlets.

Subsequent news stories prompted public outrage. Conger, who initially said it would be pointless to pursue criminal charges, told the Review-Journal newspaper that City Attorney Dave Olsen agreed with him because the case didn’t have any merit.

However, the city attorney said he was never asked for his opinion. Conger then did an about-face, issuing a statement that said in part that the actions at the shelter were “inexcusable,” and that the city would ask the D.A. to get involved.

“I don’t know which one of them is lying because Conger says he took it to the city attorney, Olsen —  and Olsen says ‘he never brought it to me,’ so one of them is lying,” according to Finn.

Since he was forced out of his job three years ago, Finn has been a constant thorn in the side of what he calls Boulder City’s ‘ruling cabal,’ which are officials who run the city connected by blood, marriage, and religion.

Finn says he’s filed numerous ethics complaints, including one against City Councilman Cam Walker, and the city attorney.  Finn said both complaints were partially sustained.

According to Finn and other confidential sources — there have been some other irregularities concerning the shelter that has been ignored.  For example, records show Frazier charged fees for various services at the shelter, but where’s the money?  The money has vanished. 

City officials tried to control the shelter’s money by ordering Frazier to use a credit card machine installed at the shelter earlier in 2015, but she refused to use it.
 
Another mystery surrounding the shelter — where’s the fentanyl?

Fentanyl is used to euthanize animals, but it’s also a valuable street narcotic.  The report indicates a substantial amount of fentanyl is believed to have been purchased for the shelter, but it hasn’t been seen since Frazier left.  Authorities also couldn’t find a paper trail of receipts.

Finn says he’s happy he stirred the pot, and he isn’t surprised to hear that some Boulder City officials are trying to blame him for the Frazier debacle.

“I think it is pretty damned cowardly for the city not to do the right thing and only do the right thing when their feet is held to the fire by the media,” Finn said.

8 News NOW has reached out to Frazier, but she has been unavailable for comment.

Frazier hasn’t been charged or convicted of any crime.

Also, you may have heard other news reports refer to Bill Conger as the police chief — he isn’t.  It’s one of those weird little “only in Boulder City” situations. 

It turns out, when the city council decided to hire Conger as police chief, he told them it would affect the full retirement pension he draws from PERS, so, to get around rules against double dipping, the city hired a private company to manage the police department, and that company hired Conger to serve as an administrator — for which he is paid a police chief’s salary, and this is all while Conger still collects his full pension.

But as far as 8 News NOW knows, Conger is no longer a certified peace officer.
 

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