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Women accused of operating 'puppy mill' file lawsuit

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The mother and daughter who were accused of running a “puppy mill” and had animals removed from their homes as a result of tax law violations are now suing the Indiana attorney general and others involved in the removal of the dogs.

Virginia and Kristen Garwood filed a lawsuit in May in Harrison Circuit Court against the Indiana Department of State Revenue, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, and dozens of other defendants; the suit was moved to federal court last week at the request of the defendants.

The AG’s office and the state revenue department investigated the mother and daughter’s business activities involving the sale of puppies and found they weren’t remitting sales and income tax due on the sales. The dogs were seized and sold. The AG’s office said the animals were confined in squalid cages and enclosures and tested positive for disease.

The women pleaded guilty to Class D felony failure to remit or collect sales tax in connection with their dog-breeding operation; that charge was recently reduced to a misdemeanor.  Virginia also pleaded guilty to a separate felony count of income tax evasion. Daughter Kristen’s felony was later reduced to a misdemeanor. There is also a civil case seeking more than $140,000 from the women.

In their lawsuit, the women claim to never have received a hearing addressing taxes due or the value of the property seized in June 2009. Virginia says that she reported the profits of the puppy sales on her taxes and that her income tax advisor didn’t advise her that she should be paying sales tax. They say they have been subjected to public ridicule and harassment because several of the defendants – including the AG – described their operation as a “puppy mill.” The women claim several of their constitutional rights were deprived by the raid on the business and lawsuit for taxes.

The mother and daughter also are in the midst of challenging the jeopardy tax assessments made against them. This issue made it to the Indiana Tax Court in December 2010, and Judge Thomas Fisher denied the state’s motion to dismiss their challenge.

 

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  1. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  2. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  3. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  4. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  5. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

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