Updated: 09/02/2014 7:11 PM
Created: 09/02/2014 5:05 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen
The state attorney general's office is trying to dissolve an organization that says it helps rescue animals in Livingston County. It all stems from weapons charges against the person who runs that group and was also its peace officer.
That peace officer is Dylan Chase and he's facing felony charges in federal court where he's accused of possessing a gun illegally because he's a convicted felon. Now the state attorney general says that's reason to dissolve the animal cruelty prevention group that Chase started.
From the daily posts on his Facebook page, it's clear Dylan Chase has a love for animals. It's probably why he started the Livingston County SPCA Humane Corps last year. But state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has now petitioned the court to dissolve the not-for-profit organization on grounds that Chase "fraudulently obtained a peace officer designation."
Kevin McKain represents Chase and the local SPCA chapter. He said, “This is a case of trying to punish an organization that has done nothing wrong for the sole reason of over-reaching against Mr. Chase individually."
Chase holds the position of chief detective and special agent for the organization. He was arrested last year after he was spotted in his SPCA police uniform carrying a gun. As a convicted felon, prosecutors say he's not allowed to possess a firearm.
Chase was also arrested in Albany County and charged with lying on his peace officer application about whether a background check was completed and in Niagara County where he purchased the gun. A judge has now scheduled a hearing for later this month to decide whether to dissolve the corporation.
McKain says the action could force his client to incriminate himself and is asking that the petition be heard after the criminal case is resolved. Another option, he says, would be to temporarily remove Chase but leave the rescue organization intact. “It's certainly a more prudent option than simply saying the entire organization must stop doing work, must disband and leave a void in the community which they were filling to help animals."
The attorney general's petition also raises questions about what the organization is doing with the donations it receives. In a statement to News10NBC, Schneiderman said, “My office is committed to animal welfare and the facts of this case are troubling. Anyone who would allegedly pose as a peace officer, misrepresent their organization, and raise funds as a legitimate enforcement agency, betrays the trust of the community and the very mission of their organization.”
McKain says any money received is going directly toward the rescue.