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Boulder City reverses course, refers case of former animal control supervisor to DA

BOULDER CITY — Boulder City officials have reversed course, saying they will submit previously dismissed information from a criminal investigation of the city’s former animal control supervisor to the Clark County District Attorney’s office for review.

According to an unsigned statement issued by the city Thursday, Boulder City Police Chief Bill Conger has been in touch with District Attorney Steven Wolfson and will provide information for felony and gross misdemeanor charges for a “full evaluation.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Tuesday that an eight-year veteran of the city’s police force earlier this year wanted to bring charges against former Animal Control Supervisor Mary Jo Frazier in connection with the deaths of dozens of animals after reviewing records and interviewing her co-workers and veterinarians who work with the shelter.

Conger, who supervised Frazier, said this week that he didn’t see any reason to pursue charges because Frazier left her job two days after the investigation was complete.

“The initial determination was to not pursue charges, but public involvement has caused us to reevaluate that position,” the city said in its statement.

A crowd of roughly 55 protesters gathered outside Boulder City police headquarters remained unsatisfied Thursday.

The statement was released just as the protest was starting. A city employee handed out copies to the crowd, but no one from the city addressed the protesters, despite their requests.

State Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, and several protesters crowded into the police department’s small waiting area to try and get someone to speak to them to no avail.

“I think that’s kind of a cowardly response,” said Henderson resident Beverly Neapolitan.

She and her husband read about Frazier in the newspaper and decided to attend the protest, Neapolitan said.

“I don’t know why they let her go,” she said. “It’s criminal what she did. Who’s to say she’s not going to go somewhere else and do what she did?”

Shifting stories

The police probe was launched in April when an animal control staffer contacted a Boulder City detective with concerns that Frazier had refused medical care for an injured pit bull puppy. The investigation widened after a shelter volunteer told police that Frazier “finds joy in killing animals,” according to a police affidavit prepared to support an arrest.

A police review of the shelter’s log found that many of the euthanized animals were exterminated the same day they arrived at the shelter, without being seen by a veterinarian. City code requires a five-day hold for animals and clearance from a vet before euthanasia, according to the affidavit.

In a one-year period ending in April, the police tied 91 questionable animal euthanasia cases to Frazier, who couldn’t be reached for comment and has reportedly moved out of state since leaving her job.

The detective thought the case warranted felony charges of killing animals and gross misdemeanor charges of unlawful poisoning of animals.

While the district attorney’s office conducts its review, a Boulder City prosecutor will examine the case for misdemeanor code violations, the city said.

Conger said Tuesday that Frazier was put on administrative leave by the city in April, just as the police investigation was finished and a separate internal investigation began into how Frazier managed money at the shelter, as well as other job performance issues.

According to the city, Frazier resigned two days after being relieved of her duties. City officials said the state’s pension agency, not them, would decide if Frazier is allowed to receive her pension.

Frazier, 61, started with the city in 1996 as a part-time employee and worked her way up to supervising animal control.

Thursday’s statement from the city stands in stark contrast to Conger’s comments to the Review-Journal earlier in the week, when he downplayed the case and called the idea of felony charges an “overreach.”

“People get in trouble and resign all the time,” the chief said Tuesday.

Conger also said he had consulted with city attorney David Olsen on the case, but Olsen said no such conversation ever took place. Conger hasn’t yet addressed that discrepancy.

‘Killed them all’

During the protest, people swapped stories of their dealings with Frazier. At least three protesters said the woman had killed their dogs, leaving them devastated.

One word that kept cropping up was “mean.”

“I had run-ins with Mary Jo. I think anyone that came into contact with her knew there was something off, a lack of compassion,” said Boulder City resident Kelly Fox. “I would like to see her have to answer for her actions on some level.”

Donna Curry said she came to the protest because she’s been taking abandoned dogs to the Boulder City shelter for years only to learn she was bringing them to their deaths.

Curry works at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, a place people sometimes dump unwanted dogs. For years, Curry said, she would rescue the dogs and drop them off at the shelter. She said she used to wonder why the place was so quiet after Frazier took over.

Curry said she tried to bring dog food and other supplies, but Frazier wouldn’t take her donations. Often she’d call and no one would answer the phone. She noticed the shelter had limited hours, so she tried to volunteer. She said Frazier turned her down.

“I guess it all adds up now,” Curry said. “They only work a couple hours a week because they don’t have any dogs. She killed them all.”

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1. Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes

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