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Wednesday, Feb 1, 2006County: Delaware
Defendant/Suspect: Debra Jane Marchetti
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
A former SPCA official was charged with tampering with public records and fabricating physical evidence in the death of a cat that was euthanized. Debra Jane Marchetti, a former director of operations at the Delaware County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is accused of pressuring another employee to fill out a report saying the cat, named Whiskers, bit a shelter worker.
Marchetti, knowing that a bite never occurred, then completed a state document and submitted it to a Pennsylvania Department of Health lab to cover up oversights made by the shelter before the cat was euthanized in February, according to court records. Upper Providence police filed the charges against Marchetti, of Upland, on Tuesday. A message left Thursday at a telephone listing in her name was not immediately returned.
"I'm happy (the police) did go ahead and do the investigation," said Kathy Giaconia, whose 14-year-old cat slipped out of her mother's home and was taken to the SPCA. After Whiskers went missing, Giaconia said, she called, visited and left a message taped to a door at the shelter, which was closed. The next day, Giaconia said, she went to claim her cat, but was told Whiskers had bitten someone and been euthanized.
The shelter has since fired two employees. It also is conducting an investigation and has implemented new procedures for euthanizing animals. But last week, the policy apparently was not followed, and another cat was put down before a family could come to claim it. "We still need additional checks and balances in the system," SPCA board member Rick Beeman said.
|The family of Whiskers the cat has filed suit against the Delaware County SPCA for euthanizing their pet and then trying to cover up the error. The civil suit is asking in excess of $50,000.|
But 10 days later, Giaconia received a call from then-shelter director Bill Vernon, who told her the cat did not bite anyone and that his staff made up the story - and sent the pet's head for testing - to cover up the fact they did not check messages before putting the animal down. Vernon apologized and offered the family grief counseling. At the time, Vernon said he considered it his "moral failure" that he did not come forward sooner.
The shelter eventually fired three employees and implemented a new procedure for euthanizing animals that now involves holding them for a full 72 hours, cross-checking messages with log books, and a final check by a member of the senior staff.
The SPCA's former director of operations, Debra Jane Marchetti, 50, of Upland, pleaded guilty to tampering with public records and other related charges. She was sentenced to 32 hours of community service and 12 months of probation Tuesday.
|Source: Philly News - February 12, 2008|
Update posted on Feb 12, 2008 - 10:53PM
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