Did They "Scam" The Cavalier Rescue System?
Updated: May 6, 2018
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on May 1, 2018
On April 13, 2015, dog “rescuers” Angie Ingram, her daughter Kara Ingram, and fellow “rescuers” Brittney Wilk, Lisa Thompson, Christina Carnes, Amanda “Mandy” Markham Johnson, and Jasmine Lawson filed an Amended Complaint in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama against Cathy Moon a/k/a Cathy S. Hoffman (Ohio), Karen Pearsall Orange (Florida), Heather Halldin (Pennsylvania), Liz Moe a/k/a Elizabeth M. Dickens (Ohio), Nancy Ann Friedman (Michigan), Lisa Swoboda (California), and Peggy Kenney a/k/a Peggy Leverso (Massachusetts). The Amended Complaint alleged that these out-of-state defendants made defamatory comments about the plaintiffs' dog “rescue” activities on a Facebook page called, “Beware Cavalier Rescue of Alabama.”
The Amended Complaint admitted that Ingram and her volunteer group were a dog “rescue” organization. It also admitted that the “rescue” group attempted to have local authorities pursue animal cruelty charges against Terri Taylor Easterbrooks, the owner of Rock Cliff Farms, in the summer of 2014. At the time, Easterbrooks was a well-known breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in Lineville, Alabama. No criminal charges were lodged against Easterbrooks.
The Amended Complaint also admitted that Ingram and her “rescue” group raised funds for a November 22, 2014 auction in Missouri where they planned to purchase Easterbrooks’ Cavaliers and other dogs. The fundraising website was set up on "GoFundMe" under the name of Brittney Wilk, a state coordinator for Cavalier Rescue USA.
The plaintiffs also made a stunning public admission in the Amended Complaint that their group “coordinated with other rescue organizations that also raised funds and to insure that no one bid against known rescue groups and bidders.” Coordination among bidders often undermines the bidding process and can constitute illegal "bid rigging" under some circumstances.
Bid rotation is a form of "bid rigging" that occurs when bidders take turns being the designated successful bidder. This is a form of market allocation where the participants in the bidding process allocate or apportion dog purchases among themselves so that each bidder will get a "fair share" of the dogs at the auctions without having to truly compete with the other bidders for these purchases.
According to the group’s GoFundMe site, the dogs purchased at the Missouri auction would be transferred to Cavalier Rescue USA, a non-profit rescue operation, to be placed in its foster care network and legitimate Cavalier adoption program.
Follow the Money and the Cavaliers
The Amended Complaint says approximately $268,000.00 was raised by Angie Ingram's group in just ten days’ time to purchase dogs at the Missouri auction.
In a February 6, 2017 formal response to Defendant Karen Pearsall Orange’s written interrogatories in the defamation case, Angie Ingram and her group made the following candid admissions:
1. The Plaintiffs did not know the exact balance of the GoFundMe account immediately prior to the auction or immediately after the conclusion of the auction;
2. “Angie Ingram paid for all of the dogs purchased at the auction with her personal funds and was reimbursed by Brittney Wilk with the funds received through the GoFundMe campaign. Some of the funds received through the GoFundMe campaign were transferred to Angie Ingram after the auction to reimburse her;”
3. Angie Ingram was reimbursed a total of $149,919.00 between November 22, 2014 and December 16, 2014; Lisa Thompson was reimbursed a total of $8,604.98 between November 24, 2014 and January 20, 2015; Amanda Johnson was reimbursed $84.00 on December 1, 2014; Jasmine Lawson was reimbursed $205.00 on March 21, 2015; and Cavalier Rescue USA was reimbursed a total of $13,209.00 between November 30, 2014 and December 21, 2014;
4. Angie Ingram and her “rescue” group purchased 54 dogs, including 46 Cavaliers, for a total purchase price of $231,447.00. Ingram was reimbursed from the GoFundMe account for this amount;
5. Twelve of the Cavaliers purchased by Ingram were transferred to Cavalier Rescue USA and taken to various states, including Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma by the state coordinators of Cavalier Rescue USA;
6. The remaining thirty-four Cavaliers purchased by Ingram were transported to Birmingham;
7. Plaintiff Christina Carnes took custody of Shiloh, now Parker, and adopted her. Shiloh was purchased, together with Royal Victor, for a whopping $24,200.00 using GoFundMe donor money. Carnes only paid an adoption fee of $300 to Cavalier Rescue USA for the right to own Shiloh, whose individual purchase price averaged $12,100.00;
8. Plaintiff Jasmine Lawson took custody of Jude, now Haven, and formally adopted her. Jude was purchased for $4,500.00 using donor money. Lawson paid an adoption fee of $300 to Cavalier Rescue USA for the right to own Jude;
9. Plaintiff Mandy Johnson took custody of Pomelo Gideon and he remains in her custody today. Gideon was purchased for $4,300.00 using donor money. Johnson is now Gideon’s lawful owner;
10. Plaintiff Brittney Wilk took custody of Happy Go Lucky for foster care and adopted this Cavalier after paying a $300 adoption fee to Cavalier Rescue USA. Happy Go Lucky was purchased for $3,750.00 at the auction using donor money; and
11. Plaintiff Angie Ingram took custody of Royal Victor from Cavalier Rescue USA on December 16, 2014 when she adopted Victor. She owns him today. Ingram paid a $300 adoption fee for a Cavalier dog that had a purchase price averaging $12,100.00.
When asked whether they personally contributed money to the GoFundMe website, Brittney Wilk said, “No”; Lisa Thompson said, “Yes, approximately $100 on 11/10/2014”; Christina Carnes said, “Yes, approximately $50 on 11/10/2014 and paid my own travel expenses to the auction"; Mandy Johnson said, “Yes, approximately $40 on 11/22/2014”; Kara Ingram said, “No”; Jasmine Lawson said, “No”; and Angie Ingram said, “Yes, approximately $100 on 11/10/2014 and paid for my own travel expenses to the auction.”
Angie Ingram and her “rescuers” claim they have not sold any of the Cavaliers they adopted.
The Defendants Raised Important Public Interest Questions and Were Sued for Raising Them
The defendants in Angie Ingram’s defamation lawsuit have raised questions about the placement of these high-priced Cavaliers with “friends and family” of the Alabama group of “rescuers” who attended the Missouri auction, and whether this group devised a prearranged procurement method to get these expensive Cavaliers for themselves using donor money and Cavalier Rescue USA’s adoption system. By raising these important public interest questions, the defendants have cast themselves as “whistleblowers.”
These questions seem to be fair game in light of the following developments: (a) Christina Carnes and Angie Ingram now own two Cavaliers that were purchased for $24,200.00 using GoFundMe donor money, (b) Jasmine Lawson owns Jude, who was purchased for $4,500.00 using donor money, (c) Mandy Johnson owns Gideon, who was purchased for $4,300.00 using donor money; and (d) Brittney Wilk owns Happy Go Lucky, who was purchased for $3,750.00 using donor money. These individuals are former Cavalier Rescue USA volunteers and “insiders.” What is more, they only contributed a total of $290.00 in cash to the GoFundMe campaign and $1,200.00 in adoption fees.
Yet, these “insiders” walked away from the Missouri auction and the Cavalier Rescue USA and Angie Ingram adoption process with ownership of five Cavaliers that were purchased for a total of $36,750.00 using donor money in a highly questionable bidding system in which Angie Ingram’s “rescue” group “coordinated with other rescue organizations ….. to insure that no one bid against known rescue groups and bidders.”
Finally, Cavalier Rescue USA desperately tried to prevent Mandy Johnson’s from acquiring ownership of Gideon. This Cavalier dog was promised to an adoption family in Kansas prior to the auction. Mandy took Gideon into temporary foster care for Cavalier Rescue USA after the auction. On December 15, 2014, Angie Ingram notified Cavalier Rescue USA that she was rescinding her November 23, 2014 official assignment of Gideon to Cavalier Rescue USA. Mandy Johnson then adopted Gideon directly from Angie Ingram on December 30, 2014.
Stay tuned for more shocking developments in this unfolding Cavalier King Charles Spaniel story.
PHOTO: Birmingham, Alabama attorney and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel "rescuer" Angie H. Ingram.