The nonprofit foundation that raises and manages the money for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Posse has changed its name and severed its ties with MCSO.
That, according to Marsha Hill, the president of the nonprofit now called the Alliance for Arizona Animal Protection. Hill said the new name, with updated board members, was filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission last week.
Hill said the move came because she and the other board members felt bullied by the sheriff's office to turn over most of the board's bank account with no accountability for how MCSO was going to spend the money.
"I get this formal letter stating that they would like to have this posse turn over $200,000, which would just about wipe us out," Hill said.
The request came from Deputy Chief Brian Lee in December of 2013. The letter states the donation would help offset costs that are currently being drawn from the current budget to operate the MASH I and MASH II programs. Those programs house and care for abused and neglected animals seized by MCSO's Animal Crimes Unit.
"They (board members) didn't know why on earth they would want to almost deplete us of almost our whole funds. And they realized that we couldn't just hand over, legally, to the sheriff's office, that much money," said Hill.
According to Hill, the board voted unanimously not to write that large of a check to the sheriff's office. She said the foundation paid veterinary, food bills and other expenses incurred by the MASH units when bills were turned over to them and they had clear records of where the money was going. But to turn over that massive amount of money with no accountability, Hill said she and her fellow board members believe would be irresponsible.
In February, Hill said she was notified by an MCSO sergeant that she was the subject of an "administrative inquiry" and that she was being put on suspension as commander of the posse. She was ordered not to have contact with anyone on the posse. Hill believed the sheriff's office was retaliating against her and trying to bully her.
Hill said that all of the animal posse members have, or are in the process of resigning from the posse, but they are staying actively on the board of the newly named nonprofit.
Hill said it is the new nonprofit's intention of continuing to help fund the MASH Units of MCSO when they are given bills and receipts. They also are interested in expanding their animal protection and care operation.
Nearly all of the money in the nonprofit's account was raised with the help of MCSO and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Some of it was raised with a yearly fundraising event known as the Pink Collar Comedy Night, which has been successful for the past few years.
In response to Hill's accusations and announcement about the newly named nonprofit, MCSO issued the following written statement:
"Ms. Hill, an unpaid volunteer with the Sheriff's Office, was placed on admin leave as commander of the Sheriff's Animal Cruelty Posse due to an ongoing investigation currently with the Attorney General's office into how she has been running the 501-C3. As is customary, when a person is on admin leave, Ms Hill was told to make no contact with anyone from the office during and through to the completion of the investigation. Ms Hill failed to follow that instruction. For this reason she was terminated from the posse."
"Lisa Allen, Director Media Relations, MCSO"
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