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Ohio animal rights advocate faces 42 counts of abuse charges

The Hill logo The Hill 8/8/2020 Morgan Gstalter
a close up of a mans face with an open mouth: A brown nose of Labrador close up © The Hill A brown nose of Labrador close up

An Ohio animal rights advocate and former director of a local Humane Society is facing 42 felony indictment charges connected to alleged animal abuse and the deaths of at least 18 dogs.

Steffen Baldwin, 39, was arrested this week after U.S. Marshals posed as potential customers in California, more than three years after he fled an investigation in Ohio, The Ohio Dispatch reported.

He waived his extradition and was returned to the state. Baldwin currently faces dozens of felony indictments, including cruelty to companion animals, grand theft, bribery, telecommunications fraud, tampering with evidence and impersonating a peace officer.

Baldwin was the leader of the Union County Humane Society in Marysville, acted as a Humane agent who investigated cases of pet and livestock abuse, and founded his own nonprofit agency.

The Dispatch reported that he appeared to be an animal lover who seemed especially passionate about helping dogs deemed difficult or dangerous. He was described as charming and confident, traits that made him appear trustworthy to pet owners.

However, police believe that persona was a ruse.

Authorities allege that he convinced pet owners that he would rehabilitate their dogs or find them new homes but was actually taking the money for personal use while euthanizing the animals without consent.

An investigation was launched after Litsa and Angelo Kargakos told police that they paid Baldin $1,000 in September 2016 to train and find a new home for their pitbull, Remi. However, a police report states that Remi was euthanized just three months later.

Baldwin assured the couple that Remi was "doing well," but then filed a false report with Union County officials claiming Remi was a dangerous animal.

The Kargakoses eventually tracked down the veterinarian who performed the procedure after becoming suspicious, The Dispatch reported. Remi was reportedly in perfect health when he was put down.

"During this 3 year battle, Remi's story fell on a lot of deaf ears, but it also fell on a lot of right ears," the couple wrote on their Facebook page called Justice 4 Remi. "In the end, the right ears were the only ears that mattered. Never give up, just remember you only need to find one RIGHT person to hear your story and who is willing to see justice served. In the end, Steffen Baldwin killed the wrong dog."

So, since I've been receiving an overwhelming amount of calls and messages about this. YES it is true....Steffen...

Posted by Justice 4 Remi on Saturday, July 25, 2020

After fleeing the state, Baldwin set up a similar practice in California. He opened Save Them Dog Training Ranch in Acton in 2018 with the claim that it would provide "lifesaving work solace and rehabilitation" to animals and their owners.

Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton told The Dispatch that he worked with Baldwin on animal abuse investigations.

"We thought that is what he was doing. But based on the allegations, shame on him for taking advantage of so many folks who wanted to see their canines live," Patton said.

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