State investigation

State report: Unauthorized drug purchases

Department confirms vaccines, other medical supplies ordered without veterinarian’s knowledge
2013-11-05T06:15:00Z 2013-11-05T07:23:19Z State report: Unauthorized drug purchasesKEVIN R. JENKINS 573-518-3614 Daily Journal Online
November 05, 2013 6:15 am  • 

* Editor’s note - This is the fourth installment of a series of investigative reports into questionable activity at Farmington Pet Adoption Center. These reports were prompted by a state multi-agency investigation in recent months.

Our reports on the investigation should not negatively reflect on or lessen the need for the important work done by the no-kill animal shelter, or indicate any wrongdoing by the majority of its volunteer and paid staff.

FARMINGTON – A state agriculture department investigation of the Farmington Pet Adoption Center has found that at least one representative of the no-kill shelter repeatedly ordered vaccines and other supplies under the name of Park Hills veterinarian Dr. Crystal Harding, DVM, without her knowledge or consent over a period of approximately eight months.

The investigation was undertaken at the request of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board, or MVMB, following a complaint filed in June by former FPAC Board President Elizabeth Haase. The complainant claimed that unauthorized orders had been placed by the shelter under Harding’s name by FPAC Board member and treasurer Lucretia Skaggs.

An investigation of the complaint, as well as an on-site inspection of the facility, was conducted in July and August by Dr. Rachel Cook, a veterinarian with the Agriculture Department’s Animal Care Program, and Animal Health Officer Olivia Bennett.

Obtained last week by the Daily Journal, the report reveals that between April 4 and Nov. 27, 2012, invoices for FPAC were issued on 31 different dates by Pfizer Animal Health under Dr. Harding’s name.

Harding, who resigned as FPAC’s attending veterinarian on May 26, 2012, stated to investigators in a July 3, 2013, face-to-face interview that she informed the MVMB in March of the unauthorized orders. This was three months prior to the submission of Haase’s complaint to the veterinary board.

Harding further stated that FPAC paid for the supplies ordered under her name. She said she had canceled other vendor accounts upon her resignation, but overlooked the Pfizer account since she personally never ordered any supplies for the shelter under that account.

Harding told investigators the Pfizer account was reportedly transferred to Farmington veterinarian Dr. Andre Oberle on Jan. 17, 2013, after he became FPAC’s attending veterinarian. At the time of her notification to MVMB, Harding stated that, to her knowledge, FPAC had ceased ordering supplies under her name or license and that the shelter had not ordered any controlled substances under her name.

The report states that Harding provided investigators a copy of an email sent to her by Pfizer Animal Health dated March 15, 2012. Attached with the email were invoices for FPAC dated from April 4 to Nov. 27, 2012, showing that the following supplies had been ordered under her name without authorization: Temaril-P, Cerenia, Clavamox, Amoxicillin, Albon, Rimadyl, Revolution, Cestex and vaccines.

Of the 31 invoices issued by Pfizer during that time period, the name “Lucretia” or “Lucretia Skaggs,” appears a total of nine times as the person placing the order.

The initials “KB” are listed as the person placing the order on four occasions between the dates of May 2 and Aug. 28, 2012. The report states that investigators were unable to discover the identity of “KB” in the course of their investigation.

A total of 18 orders, the majority of those placed with Pfizer during the time period under investigation, did not name the person placing the order.

In an Aug. 19 face-to-face interview conducted by Cook and Bennett with Skaggs, the board member-treasurer stated that during Harding’s tenure as attending veterinarian the doctor would place the order with suppliers. Skaggs said she was the one who placed the orders during June and July of 2012.

According to the report, however, documentation from Pfizer indicated Skaggs placed nine orders on different dates ranging from April 3 to Nov. 1, 2012.

Skaggs explained in her interview with investigators that the shelter had accounts with Butler (Schein Animal Health) and Pfizer (Zoetis) and had informed Pfizer that FPAC was in the process of acquiring a new attending veterinarian following Harding’s resignation in May 2012. Skaggs told the investigator that “she had given shelter staff a form from Pfizer for Dr. Oberle to complete to transfer the account to his name” and that “she had sent multiple copies of the form with shelter staff to give to Dr. Oberle.”

Skaggs further stated that “Butler had more restrictions to their shelter program and that account had transferred to Dr. Oberle sooner than the Pfizer account.”

Skaggs also said she had “noticed a significant decrease in the amount FPAC was spending on medical supplies” since Farmington veterinarian Dr. Vicki Monnig took over as FPAC’s attending veterinarian in late April 2013. She currently remains in that position.

In a July 9 phone interview, Dr. Oberle stated that he had worked with FPAC for a few months prior to formerly becoming its attending veterinarian in 2012. Admitting he did not recall the exact dates of his term as attending veterinarian with FPAC, he said he was not aware of the shelter ordering any supplies under his name without his consent and that when the shelter ordered supplies through Butler, that the order had to be approved by his clinic.

He further stated that veterinary supplies ordered on other accounts were shipped directly to his clinic.

Skaggs verified this in her August interview, when she stated that “she believed shelter staff ordered supplies through Dr. Oberle’s office once he became the attending veterinarian.”

In a July 8 phone interview with Dr. Monnig, the veterinarian stated that she assumed her position with FPAC in late April, 2013, and “was aware that medications had previously been ordered by the shelter under the name of a former attending veterinarian.”

The report also states that Dr. Monnig “informed the shelter that such conduct was a serious matter and was unacceptable.”

Dr. Monnig further stated that she was still in the process of implementing programs regarding care of the animals at the shelter and believed “the recent hiring of a veterinary technician to manage the shelter would be beneficial.”

In addition to the turnover in attending veterinarians, there have been other recent changes in personnel at FPAC.

In her interview, Skaggs told investigators that Haase resigned as board president in June 2012, and that former shelter director Nancy J. Wells was terminated from her position on Feb. 23, 2013. Wells had held several different staff positions at the shelter since 2011. Theresa Thebeau, a veterinary technician, was hired as shelter manager on Feb. 18, 2013.

Dawn Eaton, who served as FPAC Board president throughout the agriculture department investigation, left office last month during the shelter’s annual board meeting and election. In her July 3, 2013 interview, Eaton told investigators she was unfamiliar with the incident involving FPAC’s unauthorized orders with Pfizer.

The Daily Journal has also learned that Laura Weston — a seven-year employee at FPAC who served as shelter manager before requesting a reassignment to shelter assistant prior to Wells’ hiring — was terminated from her position on Sept. 23. This was the same day this newspaper published the first of a 2-part series on Haase’s complaint against Skaggs with MVMB. While not specifically identified in the news story, Weston was the employee Haase named in her official complaint as the “whistleblower” who revealed Skaggs had made unauthorized orders for the shelter through Pfizer.

Results of the investigation have been shared with MVMB, according to Christine Tew, Missouri Agriculture Department spokesperson.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

Copyright 2015 Daily Journal Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(17) Comments

  1. Grandmoi
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    Grandmoi - November 05, 2013 11:41 am
    The entire board needs to step down because of a clerical error, or because FORMER board members/volunteers have their collective noses out of joint? IF IF IF the VET BOARD had been convinced of deliberate fraud, etc, they would not have closed the investigation.
    Bad press instigated by a sour grapes former board member has caused UNINFORMED people to harm the reputation of FPAC. boo..hiss..bad form.
  2. Murphy Brown
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    Murphy Brown - November 04, 2013 8:24 pm
    I'd like to comment on a few things:
    1. Laura Weston-she has been the MOST dedicated shelter worker for 7+ years and animal lover for many more years. She has nursed puppies from Parvo and bottle fed kittens every 2 hours when nature turned its back. These were done without pay from FPAC and done out of personal care for the animal. I credit her with having personal integrity to 'do the right thing'.
    2. In the fall of 2011 and again in 2012, I provided Lucretia Skaggs the necessary info to register FPAC with the Combined Federal Campaign that allows all Federal Gov't employees to donate payroll deduction contributions to non-profit organizations. I was informed that FPAC wouldn't/couldn't pass an audit to qualify. I found another organization for my deductions. An audit investment opens doors!
    3. Medical Supply costs went down after a vet took over control?! Were the animals being overmedicated, misappropriation, or coincidence - hum!

    Accountability and Ethics speak volumes!
  3. blasterrat1
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    blasterrat1 - November 04, 2013 6:21 pm
    Now now Keving lets not say anything about Skaggs! LOL Pitifull some are claiming the comments are personal attacks on Ms. Skaggs! As I recall Her and Her supporters were pointing many fingers. All while She knew what She Had done!!!!! True colors shining brite I suppose. Should resign IMO.
  4. Acer
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    Acer - November 04, 2013 5:21 pm
    I read the Journal article as well - about the woman misrepresenting herself as an employee at a Drs. office to call in drugs for herself at phramacys in town. Now Skaggs is using a vets name illeagaly to do the same thing. Lets see how these two women get different treatment when one possibly has money and lawyers and one does not."
  5. Animaldefender
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    Animaldefender - November 04, 2013 4:43 pm
    The entire board and Lucretia Skaggs need to step down. All of this has given FPAC a black eye and it doesn't sit well in the rescue community!! Several rescues have pulled away from them because of this mess. Something is going on there and all the ugly truths and lies are coming out! The poor animals are the ones suffering! That place was a disaster when I first started volunteering there. It was a huge mess with Jane W. Aggressive dogs were dragging other dogs through the fences and killing each other. The dogs were outside 24/7. The inside runs were not being used! There were so many dogs there that fighting and killing was a daily occurrence.
    The current person Theresa running FPAC is NOT a vet tech. I asked if she knew what she doing or about to get her self into. NO!
    And to fire Laura Weston was a huge mistake. She was the only person that stuck through that entire mess from the beginning for the animals.
    Everyone needs to be fired, board included! Start fresh
  6. Keving
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    Keving - November 04, 2013 4:29 pm
    Seems like I just read last week in the Journal about a woman misrepresenting herself as someone working at a doctors office to illegally order drugs from a pharmacy. Skaggs sounds like she is doing very much the same thing. Granted, the drugs are not narcotics but they are illegally ordered just the same. Skaggs tried to take down everyone around her who tried to confront her on this. I am enjoying reading the posts of those dramatic folks who call the workers and volunteers who complained about her "animal haters" and wanting to "doom" the animals. Wow, sounds like Skaggs could do anything and you would blindly support her.
  7. THE_800_LB_GORILLA
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    THE_800_LB_GORILLA - November 04, 2013 2:54 pm

    Secret Agent, the story gives the opinion of two veterinarians. Dr. Harding complained about the ordering to the state veterinarian board and Dr. Monnig called it a serious matter and unacceptable. While Dr. Oberle didn't say anything in the investigation report about his opinion on ordering medicine under the name of a vet without their knowledge or approval, he did change the ordering of medicine so that it all came through his office. Seems to me this story just states the facts of a state investigation. It reports what it says. Nothing more. What's wrong with that?

  8. Georgie57
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    Georgie57 - November 04, 2013 2:47 pm
    I notice the charges went from "fraud" and "falsified" in the first article to simply "unauthorized" in this one. Seems more like an administrative snafu than anything to me. I take it the Dept of AG and Vet Board both have closed this case without any disciplinary action...so that kind of speaks volumes about how they feel about this issue. Anything can be made out to be something more than it is by those with hate in their hearts, even trying to care for innocent cats and dogs. And in the end, this is about someone trying to do just that, and those trying to stop her. God knows all of your names…Some are written with the blood of the pets you are trying to doom, while someone very special has her name written with the light of life she has given to countless cats and dogs…may god bless her for everything she has done, and will no doubt continue to do, regardless what obstacles others may put in her way.
  9. secret agent
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    secret agent - November 04, 2013 1:57 pm
    Has anybody asked the Veterinarians what they make of all of this? Do they see underhanded, chicanerous behavior on Lucretia Skaggs' behalf? Or do they see a shelter doing the best it can to overcome the adversity in this community regarding the irresponsible treatment of animals? A veterinarian may decide to discontinue their involvement with a shelter and it may take months for the necessary paperwork to reflect that. In looking at the various medications ordered for the animals it appears that there were no controlled substances or anything out of the ordinary. Medications ranging from anti-inflammatory drugs, to antibiotics, to routine vaccines. These are necessary medications for all animals within a shelter. To NOT order them would have been negligent. Once again, we are seeing personal attacks being made at the expense of abandoned, needy animals. I'm embarrassed for anyone who can continue to do this knowing they are only hurting the shelter. God Bless FPAC.
  10. Acer
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    Acer - November 04, 2013 1:29 pm
    Agree with "animalfriend" appears the situation was taking advantage by Skaggs. How is it that only that person that handles the money and pays shelter bills does not know who "KB" is? Or the others that placed orders besides herself on the account in question. Makes one wonder where the meds went as well. Were the meds for shelter use or Skaggs' own pets. If so were shelter funds used to pay for them?
  11. Rlynnkco
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    Rlynnkco - November 04, 2013 12:51 pm
    P.S. I would hope the organization would dismiss Ms. Skaggs and reinstate the 'whistle blowers' WITH PAY for their lost time. They shouldn't bear the brunt for bringing to light something that was illegal!
  12. Grandmoi
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    Grandmoi - November 04, 2013 12:34 pm
    It's always nice to be so selective in printing comments. I highly doubt that my comment supportive of FPAC and critical of the DJ submitted this morning but NOT printed, was the only one of its kind. Perhaps it's time for a second Farmington newspaper.
  13. animalfriend
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    animalfriend - November 04, 2013 12:04 pm
    Thanks to those employees and volunteers who had the guts to speak up when they knew things were not being handled properly. Ms. Skaggs should be ashamed for taking advantage of the situation and of the community that has so wonderfully supported the good
    work that this shelter does.
  14. Rlynnkco
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    Rlynnkco - November 04, 2013 10:34 am
    If these charges were found to be valid, I think it hastens concerns about the organizations fiscal management under Lucretia Skaggs as well. Allegedly she is the same person who turned down or differed offers of donors to pay for an outside audit of the organizations finances. Audits are standard best practice in the non-profit industry and greatly increase an organization's ability to raise money for their cause. I believe Ms. Skaggs is solely handling this organization's finances which in itself raises flags. I do hope that the Board of Directors acts swiftly to remedy their management and fiscal oversight short falls, gets an outside audit and takes steps to follow best practices. That is what will most help the animals in need of their services.
  15. blasterrat1
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    blasterrat1 - November 04, 2013 10:24 am
    Huh! Imagine that. Seems Ms. Haase is'nt the problem many made Her out to be! IMO She did the right thing speaking up. That perhaps Skaggs should apologize and resign.
  16. Grandmoi
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    Grandmoi - November 04, 2013 10:13 am
    So, this is news? The Vet board investigated, closed the case without further ado, and referred it to the USDA. These articles are sounding more and more like the Daily Journal thinks it's uncovered a sort of "animal facility Watergate". The vet board did it's job..sorry that the DJ is unsatisfied with the outcome.
  17. Acer
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    Acer - November 04, 2013 9:41 am
    WOW.... after all the comments and postings by Ms. Skaggs and others on her behalf that blamed everyone of wrongly accusing her.... like the DJ, Ms. Haase, the former shelter employees and volunteers (that she fired or banned from the shelter after stating the truth). I guess now she will blame the veterinarian that turned her in.
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