Sharp County Couple Who Sold Animals for Research Plead Guilty to Federal Charges

AUGUST 30, 2005 - Posted at 4:19 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A Sharp County couple this afternoon waived indictment and entered felony guilty pleas on charges stemming from their roles in a mail fraud scheme related to the sale of dogs and cats to research facilities across the United States.  The sales violated the Animal Welfare Act because C.C. Baird, a former USDA licensed Class B animal dealer, transferred the dogs and cats to research facilities with false acquisition records.

A search warrant was executed in the investigation at Baird's kennel and residence near Williford on August 26, 2003 by agents with the USDA and the U.S. Post Office.  Sharp County sheriff's deputies and Arkansas State Police officers provided support in the week-long raid, which ended on August 31, 2003.

As a result of that search, approximately 125 dogs and cats were seized by federal agents as evidence of various violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

C.C. Baird, Jr., 59, pled guilty to conspiracy to launder money.  The maximum security penalty is not more than ten years imprisonment and/or not more than a fine of $5.4 million with three years of supervised release.

Patsy Baird, 59, pled guilty to misprision of the felony mail fraud.  The maximum statutory penalty is not more than 3 years in prison, and/or not more than a fine of $250,000 with one year of supervised release.

The Bairds consented to criminal forfeiture of $200,000 in U.S. currency, and approximately 700 acres in Sharp County, valued at approximately $1.1 million, including their residence and former kennel facilities known as Martin Creek Kennels and Pat's Pine Tree Farm.  The Bairds also agreed to pay approximately $42,400 in partial reimbursement of investigative costs as directed by the USDA.  These funds will reimburse animal rescue groups approved by the USDA, who took custody of the animals seized on Baird's property in 2003.

"Use of animals for medical and other research is a sensitive and controversial issue," said U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins.  "Those who engage in the business of breeding, buying, and selling these animals must exercise the utmost care to abide by every law and regulation. Those who ignore their many responsibilities must be held accountable, especially when their conduct results in needless suffering or inhumane treatment."