Following an investigation by the Nevada attorney general’s office, a Las Vegas family has been charged with running a dog theft scheme that authorities say lasted more than a year.
The three suspects are Savanna Espinoza, 19, Johnny Espinoza, 37, and Jacklynn Espinoza, 36, according to a news release from the attorney general’s office. The Espinozas, who were arrested on Tuesday, face 14 felony and gross misdemeanour counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, theft with the assistance of a child, theft, cruelty to animals and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
A criminal complaint alleges that the scheme ran from November 2016 until February 2018 and involved the Espinozas using numerous ruses to steal dogs and then resell them for profit.
In some cases, the Espinozas would reach out to dog owners looking to rehome their pets, “promising to provide the dog with a loving and permanent home,” the complaint alleges. In others, the trio would pose as owners of lost dogs that had been taken in by strangers, it said.
The animal cruelty charge stems from allegations that the Espinozas neglected at least two stolen dogs, resulting in the canines suffering from untreated infections and malnourishment, according to the complaint.
“Several Nevadans have been misled and taken advantage of by the Espinozas’ attempt to perpetrate fraud,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement.
Anyone affected by the scheme may contact the attorney general’s office at 702-486-3307.