The former chief humane agent for the Union County Humane Society has been charged with 42 criminal charges including bribery, animal cruelty and impersonating a peace officer. Steffen Baldwin appeared in court on Wednesday and bail was set at $200,000.
According to WbnsNews, Baldwin, 39, of “Save Them Dogs” and co-founder of Underdog Alliance, was taken into custody by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department relating to alleged criminal activities in Ohio and California.
An investigation began when Angelo and Litsa Kargakos saved a pit bull named Remi from certain death in May 2016, after having been deemed dangerous. Remi arrived at No Fear Rescue, and within a month the dog was behaving as any other dog and rescuers decided he deserved a new home. Just prior, the couple had contacted Steffen Baldwin who had made a name for himself with pit bull rescues as a dog whisperer.
Kargakos paid $1,000 to Baldwin to work with Remi, with the ultimate purpose of getting the “dangerous dog” title erased. Within just a few months however, Kargakos became suspicious – every time she asked to visit Remi, she was denied. When he told them the dog had accidentally escaped, the rescue did everything to find him, but to no avail.
When the authorities and lawyers became involved, Baldwin changed his story.
“He fabricated a story and stated that Remi broke out of his kennel and that he attacked and killed another dog, and then he had to euthanize Remi due to the wounds…”
It was later discovered that Remi had no wounds on him when he was euthanized. They also believed other dogs were euthanized without cause, and took their suspicions to the Campbell Police Department in Mahoning County. An initial police report filed in June 2017 along with subsequent evidence uncovered dozens of charges leading to the deaths of 18 dogs.
Prosecutors believe Baldwin had aspired to be a celebrity on Animal Planet and tied himself to animal advocates in order to build his reputation as an expert dog trainer. By the time authorities had been ready to move in and arrest Baldwin, he had moved to California.
Last week Baldwin waived extradition and arrived in Ohio.
Updates to follow.
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