A Franklin Township kennel owner, who in September was charged with theft by deception and receiving stolen property, will have her day in court.
During a preliminary hearing at District Judge Bruce Appleton's office, assistant district attorney James Lavelle proved that there was enough evidence against Patricia E. Gadaleta of 974 Pohopoco Drive, Lehighton, the owner of Musket Labradors, to take the case to court.
Lavelle said "We're pleased with the results and we're prepared to take this as far as we need to for a just completion for the victims."
Gadaleta was charged after state police at the Lehighton barracks were notified that she had passed numerous bad checks to Cheri and Kevin Conway of Klamath Falls, Oregon, for two purebred Labrador Retrievers that she purchased from the couple. Cheri is the owner of Thornwood Labrador Retrievers.
The Conways were present at the hearing and Cheri testified on the matter.
She explained that she was contacted by a Meg Kippler of Waterford, N.J., who turned out to be Gadaleta, on July 26, asking about purchasing a Lab from her. The dog, Gadaleta claimed, would be a family companion for she and her husband "Ron."
Conway said after phone calls and e-mails over the next two days, "Kippler" (Gadaleta) decided to purchase both male dogs that Conway was selling.
"She said all the right things," Cheri said. "She never raised any red flags.
"If I knew what she was doing, I wouldn't have sent them. These are precious little children who go off to be family companions."
A price of $2,000 for each animal, as well as fees for air flight, veterinarian expenses and crates, was agreed upon and a contract was drawn up.
She said Gadaleta then sent a cashier's check in the amount of $5,018 for the animals, but the check never arrived.
She then sent a personal check in the amount of $5,040, which arrived the day the animals were shipped via air. The check, the Conways eventually found out, had non-sufficient funds and bounced. A copy of the check was sent to the Conways from the bank.
Cheri contacted the defendant again, stating that the check was not good. She was told that the defendant would send out another cashier's check in the amount of $5,190, which would cover the cost of fees for the bad check.
Conway said a second cashier's check was sent, with a valid tracking number, but was never received because it was "recalled" by the defendant.
Cheri again contacted Kippler about the check and was told she would send another personal check to cover the cost.
A second personal check was sent to the Conway's bank, but to the Washington branch instead of the local branch, to be directly deposited into their account. Again, the check bounced, but this time, the Oregon bank's branch manager asked the Washington branch to send the original check instead of a photo copy.
Conway said that when the bad check was received, it showed that someone had used Wite-Out to cover the name and address on the check. She then held the check up to the light and was clearly able to see the name "Anthony Gadaleta, 974 Pohopoco Drive, Lehighton, PA 18235."
Again she contacted Kippler and said that she must wire transfer the money directly into their account. The transaction never happened.
Conway testified that she then contacted the Klamath County Sheriff's department about the incident and was contacted by Pennsylvania State Trooper Nicolas De La Iglesia, the investigating officer on the East Coast.
Following Conway's testimony, De La Iglesia took the stand.
He testified that after being assigned to the case, he obtained a search warrant for the Gadaleta property, which was executed on Sept. 23.
During the search of the property, he noted that he discovered both Labradors, which were identified using the microchip information that each dog had been implanted with before leaving the Conway's property, as well as receipts with Meg Kippler's name on it. These receipts also had the Conway's name and address in the recipient spots.
Gadaleta was taken into custody and has been housed in the Carbon County Correctional Facility since then.
Following the witness testimony, Judge Appleton ruled that Gadaleta's case had enough evidence and would be referred to the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas for review in its entirety.
This is only the first of five charges that Gadaleta is facing in regard to purchasing dogs using an alias name and not paying for them.
Other victims include Sharene Greer Clark and Dan Clark of California, Michelle Marie Veucasovic of Michigan, Belquest Kennels and Cattery of Maryland, and Katie Somers of Washington state.
A preliminary hearing on the second round of charges has been scheduled for Nov. 23, at 3 p.m.