Animal shelter director defends herself against theft allegations
Puppy in a cage at the Gallatin County Animal Shelter (Photo: Gallatin County Animal Shelter)
SPARTA, KY (FOX19) -
The director of the Gallatin County Animal Shelter is now
under investigation for allegedly misappropriating funds according to the
county sheriff. But she told FOX 19 Now's Lisa Hutson exclusively she's
Robin Costello says when she began working at the Gallatin
County Animal Shelter four years ago, the place was a wreck. Animals were dying
of disease and more than 90 percent of the ones that came in were put down. Since
then, as the shelter director, she says she's worked hard to make it a no kill
model shelter on a budget of only $36,000 a year. But now county officials are
investigating her on allegations she took that money for herself.
"I'm not worried at all. I've put so much of my own
money, my own time," said Robin Costello.
Costello says she's shocked to learn after taking a leave of
absence due to illness from the Gallatin County Animal Shelter, the county is
now investigating her on charges of misappropriating funds.
"I don't understand how they can accuse me of
embezzling funds when I'm only getting $9,000 every three months to run the
shelter. I don't have access to unlimited funds. I don't have access to county
funds," said Costello.
Through a private contract with the county,
Costello says she received $36,000 a year to pay herself a salary and run the
shelter. She says she raised additional funds for shelter repairs through
generous donations and grants. But now, the county's animal control officer
Bobby Nunn is saying she kept that $36,000 for herself. After getting a call
from a local store that Costello had wrote a bad check from the shelter account
to herself, Nunn says he asked to see the bank records.
"I found out that she was paying out $9,600 every three
quarters to her and her boyfriend so there was nothing left for the shelter. I
had to do something so I turned it over to the judge," said Nunn.
"There had to have been something that would have arose
that caught their eye that led from one thing to another," said Gallatin County
Sheriff Josh Neale.
Sheriff Neale says his department was handed the case on
Monday and is now investigating the allegations at the request of the Judge
"There is reason to believe something has happened with
some funds that were allocated for the shelter. Now it is up to us to determine
if those funds were used appropriately or misused," said Sheriff Neale.
"I get a check for $9,000. I do pay myself out of that
check. I pay myself $450 a week for an 80 or 90 hour week. Sometimes more than
that," said Costello.
Costello doesn't deny writing herself checks from the
shelter account. She says that's the only way she is paid for her services. She
believes the entire investigation is personal.
"It is definitely a personal vendetta and I don't care
they can haul me into court all they want. I don't care. I don't have anything
to hide. I don't care about these charges. The people of this county know how
hard I've worked and I'm just concerned for the safety of those animals," said
Now that Costello is no longer in charge, the
biggest fear volunteers tell me is the shelter will go back to euthanizing
animals. Last week, Bobby Nunn tells us he put down four dogs he deemed
vicious. Costello maintains only two of the dogs were vicious and accused Nunn
mistreating the animals
he brings in. Nunn denies that allegation.