Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fake Cops from the SPCA

This guy?  Not a cop.  Not a public servant.
He's a self-employed lawyer in police officer drag.
Posse of volunteers will lay down the law in Schenectady

Signed, sealed and delivered. Public accountability?  Transparency in government?  Not so much.

The contract approved by the Schenectady County legislature awarding the private Schenectady County SPCA 50% of any money they can gouge out of dog owners through enforcement of licensing, leash and dangerous dog laws, plus control of the balance of the money and access to vehicles purchased and maintained at taxpayer expense took effect on November 15.

So where's the fire ?

Under the terms of the contract, the SCSPCA's volunteers--whoever they may be, because the contract doesn't require them to be peace officers--will have no supervision from the County and are specifically exempted from the rules and regulations applicable to County employees as they go about their public law enforcement activities. 

Apparently, Schenectady County was willing to sign just about anything to get out from under the shaky lawsuit the SPCA brought against them.  The lawsuit was filed on October 7, the so-called "Vicious Dog Law of 2011" was proposed by October 14, and by October 28 the County Attorney was declaring the whole mess a 'win-win' and urging county legislators to get on board.  By the November 9 meeting of the county legislature, it was a done deal.

What makes me think there is more to this story?

Burning, burning desire to address "vicious" dogs? 

Yeah, right.

The "vicious dog law" turned out to be a sweetheart contract between the SPCA and Schenectady County ultimately giving a private corporation control of 100% of monies it generates by the enforcement of state laws.  No provisions for audit, and no opportunity for public oversight over the disposition of public monies. 

Plus freebie vehicles and maintenance, and some other perks--all at taxpayer expense.

On November 11, the head of the SCSPCA  Mathew B. Tully (pictured above) announced that he is resigning. In discussing his "proactive" approach to law enforcement, Tully  commented that the "end game" in his suit against the County is to ensure the viability of the SCSPCA. 

Schenectady, you was played.  Majorly played.

Rhinestone cowboys as bounty hunters
I guess I could volunteer for the Schenectady County SPCA and become a vigilante  uh hobbyist law enforcer umm "Schenectady County Contractor", too.

Why not? I bet I'd look kewl in that navy blue uni and the tool belt and whatnot, too.

I'd probably scare the crap out of dog owners unable to produce a dog license.   They'd practically be throwing the cash at me, especially if I were to mention that unlicensed dogs in NYS are subject to immediate impoundment.

Then there are those people whose 10 year-old dogs accidentally escape out the back door for the first time in their lives.  Looks like  there's good money to be made by not-for-profits in loose dogs.  $565 to bail out a stray dog from a shelter operated by a "not for profit"? 

Dang. . .

As long as the private not-for-profit holds a contract from the municipality, looks like they're golden.  And the Schenectady County contract says specifically that the County will not supervise the SPCA's activities. Can it get any better?

Freedom of Information?  Not in Schenectady. 
What happens when the citizens of Schenectady County start to ask questions about how public laws are enforced ? 

What records will be available to them?   

Will they be required to sue a private not-for-profit corporation, which--not for nothing--is staffed by volunteer lawyers, in order to gain access to records which would normally be available to them?

End Games:  Private and public.

Schenectady, you've got a crew of volunteers--responsible to no public official--enforcing the law with a "proactive" focus.  They take 50% off the top for themselves, and ultimately they have access to 100% of the revenues they generate through their law enforcement activities.  Talk about a motive for frivolous prosecutions. . .

The County is doing its best to distance itself from the consequences and wash its hands of any responsibility.

Good luck with that, Schenectady County legislators and public officials.  And may you rot in hell.

I don't think this is going to end well. 

Not at all.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Extorting Schenectady: New York SPCA Shows True Colors

Note:  What goes around comes around. 
Blue Dog State first wrote about the Schenectady SPCA and its "fergit shelters, we gonna arrest you" mission in a piece called

New Revenue Scheme for Animal Extremist Innovator
Schenectady SPCA sets itself up for 50% off the top
. . . thanks to its lawsuit against the Sheriff

Private persons associated on a volunteer basis with a private corporation and a clear animal extremist agenda will be independently enforcing dog control laws in Schenectady County -- without having to answer to county officials -- if  legislators approve the "Vicious Dog Control Law of 2011" on November 9.

As payment, the private corporation will receive 50% of all fines paid to the county stemming from their enforcement of state dog laws.  The remaining 50% of the monies paid by Schenectady dog owners pursuant to the enforcement of public laws will also go to the SCSPCA, in compensation for sheltering impounded animals. 

The Schenectady SPCA does not operate a shelter and it never has. 

As an added bonus when the contract gets signed, the private SCSPCA gains access to vehicles purchased and maintained at taxpayer expense.

In exchange for the money, the contract to enforce dog control regulations throughout the county, and the vehicles, the SCSPCA agrees to drop
the lawsuit it filed against the Schenectady County Sheriff.

Mathew Tully's SCSPCA initiated the suit in October when the SPCA -- which, again, does not operate a shelter and never has -- seized roughly 40 cats and a dog pursuant to its investigation of animal cruelty allegations. 

The SCSPCA insisted that County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino accept custody and responsibility for the animals pending adjudication of the charges.  When that didn't happen--the Sheriff cited financial constraints and lack of facilities--the Schenectady County SPCA sued him.

Cty. Sheriff Dagostino

In the meantime, the SPCA killed the impounded dog and about a third of the impounded cats.  They had fleas.

Although the numbers in the various press accounts vary, it appears that some of the remaining survivors of the "rescue" were farmed out to the illegal pre-adjudication forfeiture gulag "humane" network of fosters and shelters.   Seems at least some sheltering alternatives were available, after all.   Surprise, surprise.

Blue Dog believes that for all practical purposes those remaining cats might just as well have vanished from the face of the planet.  Whether they've since been killed, sold, given away, or simply "lost" in the system, they will not be available as evidential exhibits.

Follow the trail of dead cats

Setting aside the drama and the accusations, what really happened as a result of the Great SCSPCA Cat Seize?

Many of the animals the SCSPCA impounded (allegedly flea-ridden, but still alive) are now dead. 

Their owner, described in the press as a conscience-stricken "rescuer" who gradually became overwhelmed, awaits her day in court under the forlorn theory that she is innocent of deliberate and calculated cruelty to animals until proven guilty.  While 40 or more animals were seized from her home, she was only charged with one count of cruelty.  Innocent or not, the animals are history.  They will never be returned to her, even if she is cleared of the charges. 

The County appears to be submitting to pressure from a small private corporation with an adrenalin-driven lawyer at the helm.  Schenectady County exhibits zero understanding of New York's Agriculture and Markets laws. . .and worse yet, zero concern for the civil rights of its dog and animal owning residents.

And the SCSPCA ?  Tully is a lawyer, as are several of his volunteers, and he uses his law firm as an operations center for the SCSPCA.  As a result of filing a lawsuit using in-house legal services, Tully stands to gain an immediate 50% cut on any revenue they can generate by enforcing dangerous dog, leash and dog licensing laws in Schenectady County, plus control of the balance of the public monies collected pursuant to a state law. 

How sick is this picture? 

And who the freak is Mathew Tully, Esq., and his band of 10 or 12 volunteers-soon-to-be-Schenectady dog control contractors?

You better sit down, kids

Currently, Mathew Tully is the. . .

Chief Commanding Officer of the SCSPCA,

Director of the SCSPCA,Chief of Department of the SCSPCA,

President of the SCSPCA,Chief Humane Law Enforcement Officer of the SCSPCA,

and the
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SCSPCA.

But Tully first hit the radar for many animal owners back in 2002 when, acting as a volunteer, he fraudulently misrepresented himself as an officer of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society and seized 15 dogs from a dog retailer.  The dogs were valued at approximately $9000, and were subsequently sold by the CGHS, which retained the proceeds.

Mad extortion skillz

According to
sworn testimony included in court records,

Tully . . . told [the dog owners] that, unless they immediately signed a document surrendering the 15 puppies on their premises to the Society, he would arrest them upon a misdemeanor charge of violating Agriculture and Markets Law § 357.  They allege in their verified complaint that Tully, who is also an attorney, told them that it would be one or two days before they were arraigned, that he would ask for high bail and that he would "demand that [their five] children be placed by the Department of Social Services until plaintiffs made bail." Plaintiffs signed the surrender document and were issued an appearance ticket."  [emphasis added]

During his persecution investigation, Tully made reference to the results of a veterinarian's examination of an allegedly unfit puppy sold by the plaintiffs.  Yet the
vet's sworn affidavit reads:

"I understand that Mr. Tully has given an updated deposition in this case in which he avers that[I found an animal] infected with a contagious disease dangerous to the life and/or health of animals called coccida. . . I absolutely deny that I ever told Mr. Tully. . . that any of the animals was infected with a contagious disease dangerous to the life and/or health of animals. . .the puppy was normal in all respects and was clearly not "infected with a contagious disease dangerous to the life and/or health of animals." [emphasis added]
Note:  to protect the vet's privacy, I have removed some details from the linked affidavit

All charges against the dog owners were dropped. 

Hat tip: 
Game Fowl News

Law.  Order. [Private] Police State.
Back in 2008, when Tully was busy promoting his newly established, shelterless SPCA, he was clear on his vision for Schenctady County: 

"I guarantee you, there is no point in having an SPCA unless you increase the volume of arrests,”
Tully said.'

Good to know.  How about the volume of extortions?

But the connection between addressing any "vicious" dogs in Schenectady County and setting Tully's private army loose on the public is a little vague.  How is kicking back half the revenue from unlicensed dog tickets to a private army going to help? 

State law allows for the immediate impoundment of unlicensed dogs.  Is that what folks in Schenectady County are facing?  Because the revenue numbers would be impressive.

What public oversight of law enforcement activities, what transparency in government--and private corporations--can there possibly be when it is handed over to a private corporation?  What elected public official acting on behalf of the People of Schenectady County will have any influence at all ? 

The proposed agreement between the SPCA and the County is specific:

"Except as provided herein, [the Schenectady County SPCA] shall not be subject to any rules and regulations applicable to the employees of the County, and shall fulfill its responsibilities independent of, and without any supervisory control by the County."

What recourse will people have when they get steamrolled by Tully and the SCSPCA?  Who can they complain to, if the County has agreed not to get involved ?

Dog owners of Schenectady County, you will be on your own.

Schoharie County and beyond.

According to Tully,  the  "ultimate end game for [the SCSPCA] is to make sure the SPCA is viable for years to come."

Also good to know.

Tully expects to be filing a similar extortionate suit in Schoharie County soon, and envisions his model being replicated across the State of New York. 

From there, who knows?

What you can do

The Schenectady County Legislature meets to consider the "Vicious Dog Control Act of 2011" on Wednesday, November 9 at 7:00 p. m.

Write, phone, and email the legislators.  Tell them you fear life in a police state patrolled by a crew of out-of-control volunteers with no responsibility to any elected official whatsoever.  The Schenectady County Chairwoman is Judith Dagostino.  Start with her.

Schenectady County Legislative Offices
620 State Street
6th Floor
Schenectady, NY 12305
Phone: (518) 388-4280
Fax: (518) 388-4591
email: legislature @

Corruption:  Tully.  Schenectady County.  Who else?

The proposal is illegal. 

Volunteers for private not-for-profits are not public servants.

The government cannot award special privileges to private corporations.

We do not have private armies in this country.

Schenectady County cannot simply set an unsupervised posse loose on its citizens and hope for the best.  Or the cheapest.

Something is terribly, terribly wrong here.
Blow that whistle, ring that bell.

We cannot let this happen.