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Animal cruelty, bribery charges reported

Visalia, CA (US) Incident Date: Thursday, May 31, 2007 County: Tulare.

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

Michael James Sargeant
William Ray Harmon
Ron C. Cookson

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available
A Bakersfield man faces felony charges in a case that involves animal cruelty and bribery. Michael James Sargeant, a businessman who owns Sargeant’s Wholesale Biological, is set to appear before a judge in about three weeks. He buys dead cats from animal shelters and sells them for veterinary research .

Sargeant, William Harmon, and Ronn Cookson are out on bail after an arrest in this case following accusations of animal cruelty and bribery at the Tulare County Animal Shelter. Sargeant avoided questions on June 19, 2007 as 17 News attempted to get his comments.

According to court documents, workers at the Tulare shelter said animals were euthanized the same day they were taken to the shelter. The Kern County Animal Control said that is illegal. Division Chief Denise Haynes said the Kern County shelter used to contract with Sargeant. “Kern County had a contract with Mr. Sargeant, and at that time, the price was $2.50,” per dead cat, she said. “The cats were held the required amount of time, we would euthanize them and Mr. Sargeant would pick them up.”

In Tulare, the county contracted with Sargeant’s Wholesale Biological to sell cat carcasses for research and education from January to June of 2002. The criminal case alleges Tulare employees were ordered not to adopt out any pregnant, unsterilized or medium-sized dogs. 17 News obtained a written statement from Sargeant stating he “absolutely denies bribery of any type. I had a good working relationship with Tulare County Animal Control. If there was wrong doing of any kind, it was done by my ex-wife who managed the paperwork and financial end the business."  (more)