March 14, 2016 - 9:15 pm
Allegations of corruption have plagued Boulder City since reports surfaced that the police chief dropped a criminal investigation of the animal control supervisor now accused of needlessly killing dozens of animals for years.
Former Animal Control Supervisor Mary Jo Frazier was indicted earlier this month on two counts of felony animal cruelty by a Clark County grand jury.
One count stems from the death of Frazier’s own dog, while the other stems from her refusal to treat a pit bull puppy that had been abused.
The district attorney’s office has said the number of animals Frazier — who worked at the shelter from 1996 to 2015 — is suspected of abusing is much larger.
Grand jury transcripts, made public Monday, offer a window into the case.
Boulder City police officers told a grand jury the city’s former police chief, who quit amid the shelter scandal, didn’t want the case against his former employee made public.
Former Police Chief Bill Conger ordered Detective David Olson not to investigate why the city’s shelter was missing cash and missing narcotics, Olson testified.
Conger ordered that evidence taken out of the investigation paperwork, he said. Conger had never ordered him to stop investigating anything before. It was abnormal for him to get so involved in a criminal case, detectives testified.
That April 2015 investigation wouldn’t go beyond Olson’s findings that Frazier had needlessly killed animals at the shelter for years. It wouldn’t be used to convince a prosecutor to bring charges. Instead, it would be a means to persuade Frazier to quietly retire.
Conger called the case “a poker chip,” two detectives recalled.
“’We’re going to use this as a poker chip, kid, because I know about some of this stuff prior and it’s going to look bad if it gets out,’” Olson said Conger told him. “’So we’re going to let her bow out gracefully and retire and we’re not going to submit charges and we’re not going to arrest her.’”
But the scandal at the shelter did get out. The Review-Journal in December reported on the dropped investigation.
Conger told the newspaper in December that he thought Olson “got a little bit ahead of himself” and there was no point going forward on a case that wasn’t going to go very far.
“People get in trouble and resign all the time,” Conger said.
In January, Conger made his own quick exit. His departure — which was so abrupt the city manager found out from a reporter — came a month after public outrage prompted the city to send the case to the Clark County District Attorney’s office for review. The city sought to have Frazier charged with 37 counts of animal cruelty.
Prior to his resignation, some police staffers told the city’s human resources department that Conger was lying when he said he acted as soon as he heard allegations about Frazier. In fact, a full year earlier animal control officer Ann Inabnitt told Conger she had seen Frazier kill her own dog and alter the shelter’s drug log, according to grand jury testimony.
Inabnitt testified that Conger told her, “Well kid these things take time to investigate.”
“He just kind of patted me on the head and said he’d look into it,” she told the grand jury. “And I had to believe him at that point that he was looking into some of the things I was telling him.”
Frazier’s attorney has said in court that the former animal control supervisor is adamant about her innocence. Conger could not be reached for comment. A trial for Fraizer on the two animal cruelty counts has been set for Sept. 12.
What would happen to Oscar the dachshund triggered Inabnitt’s initial warning to Conger. It was spring 2014, and it would be another year before any action would be taken and almost another full year before any criminal charges would be brought.
On his last day alive, Oscar had arrived at the shelter happy and, by all appearances, healthy, Inabnitt testified. Frazier, however, was not happy. The dog was a bitter aspect of her divorce, and since she and her husband had separated, Oscar kept peeing on the carpet, and she’d had enough.
Inabnitt testified she told Frazier that the dog just missed Frazier’s husband, “his dad.” All Frazier had to do was wait for Oscar to cope or just give him back, Inabnitt said.
But Frazier cursed at the mention of her ex and brought Oscar to a bank of cages at the back of the shelter. She stuffed him inside a cage and went to the safe where she kept the shelter’s drugs, Inabnitt testified. Then Frazier killed him in a manner against protocol, Inabnitt testified. Inabnitt said she wanted to hold Oscar as he died to comfort him, but Frazier would not allow it.
Frazier stuck him with the drug in his hind leg and went out for a smoke. Inabnitt stared in shock as the dog screamed, banging its head against his cage.
Frazier came back and stuck a syringe directly into unconscious Oscar’s heart, Inabnitt testified. Frazier let the syringe sit there, moving with the dying dog’s fading heartbeat.
Frazier ordered there was to be no paperwork, Inabnitt testified. Inabnitt asked how the drugs used to kill Oscar would be explained. The Drug Enforcement Administration requires a detailed drug log of the schedule 2 narcotic. Frazier told Inabnitt she’d just doctor it.
Before leaving, she told Inabnitt, “This never happened.”
Contact Bethany Barnes at email@example.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes