Judge orders 2 women to stand trial in Echo Park dognapper case

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Two women accused of impersonating Los Angeles animal cruelty officers and seizing an Echo Park man's dog were ordered Friday to stand trial. (KABC)

Two women accused of impersonating Los Angeles animal cruelty officers and seizing an Echo Park man's dog were ordered Friday to stand trial.

The pair said they seized the man's dog, named Fanny, because he was mistreating his pet.

In the preliminary hearing, Fanny's owner, Cesar Aguilar testified that Shannah Tenner of Los Angeles and Jenny Smiley of Sherman Oaks tricked and intimidated him into handing over his dog.

"When they came, they said they were police and they came with the sheriff uniform," Aguilar said, through a court translator.

Aguilar's account was backed up by a witness for the prosecution. Claudia Ripke, a worker at a veterinarian's office testified that Smiley detailed to her directly how she and Tenner carried out the ruse.

"She said that if he didn't comply with releasing his dog that they were gonna report him to immigration," Ripke told the court.

The allegations make this case far more serious than the theft of a pet. The women are also accused of extortion and the unlawful use of a badge.

Detectives say at the time of the incident they believed public safety was jeopardized by two suspects impersonating police officers. LAPD issued an alert that exploded on social media.

The response to the photos of 2-year old Fanny and the account of what happened to Aguilar struck a nerve in the community. Investigators tell Eyewitness News that the alert got 80,000 hits on social media.

In the final hours of the preliminary hearing, the defendants presented testimony from Aguilar's neighbors at his Echo Park apartment complex, accusing him of mistreating Fanny. Yet in the end, Judge Karla Kerlin said that the neighbors' complaints did not rise to the level of Fanny's life being threatened and that neighbors' observations were not relevant.

Kerlin says there was sufficient evidence that the women entered a secured complex, were outfitted in official garb, and gave the appearance of being police.

The women, who now face two misdemeanor and felony charges, are scheduled to be arraigned on June 26.

Related Topics:
petsdogsdogs stolenlapdanimal abuseanimal rescueEcho ParkLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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