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Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup (Southeast Michigan) Message Board › Pet Station Owner Arrested - Cruelty

Pet Station Owner Arrested - Cruelty

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,356


Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,367
Pet store manager accused of selling illegal, invasive fish species

Published: Friday, June 08, 2012

http://www.pressandgu...­

By J. Patrick Pepper
Twitter: @jpeppernews

The Pet Station in Dearborn Heights was shut down in April and authorities charged the owner with animal cruelty. Now, another manager from the store is facing more charges of selling illegal fish species to a federal, undercover agent.

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Federal authorities this week alleged even more fishy business at the Pet Station, this time charging a manager with selling invasive fish species’.

In a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services agent alleges Ash Khatib, a manager at the south Dearborn Heights pet store, provided him with walking catfish and connected him with a dealer of snakehead fish.

Both species are considered invasive to the United States and share a unique trait — they can wriggle on land for up to a quarter-mile, bouncing from body of water to body of water, provided they stay moist. Natives of southeast Asia, the fish are known for their voracious appetites and are without natural predators in North America.

The investigation began in June 2010 with a tip from a confidential informant. According to the complaint, the informant purchased two walking catfish at Pet Station over the previous year for about $14 a piece.

The agent went to Pet Station a few days later and asked about purchasing one of the whiskered ichthyoids. A store employee identified only as Mike allegedly told the agent he had one large walking catfish for $79.99 and that he could order smaller ones for $14.99. A few days later the agent returned to the store and met with Khatib, a Dearborn Heights resident, about buying the walking catfish. A few days later, Khatib sold one to the agent for $15.89, according to the complaint.

The agent returned to the store the next month to ask about snakeheads. Khatib said he did not stock the fish because “selling snakehead fish was like selling drugs because it was illegal.” However, the agent said, Khatib offered to hook him up with someone who could help.

A couple weeks later, the agent went to Pet Station for a meeting with the snakehead dealer, who introduced himself as “Tiny.” Tiny confirmed he had snakeheads and gave the agent his phone number. Later that day, the agent met Tiny at his house in Wayne.

Tiny, who was eventually revealed to be Daniel Thacker, was well aware of the criminal implications of selling the fish, the agent said. He talked about the risk of “bringing them in” and said he could be fined $10,000 for each fish if caught. The agent ended up buying one redline snakehead for $100 cash.

The agent then reviewed customs declarations, discovering that an Ohio fish importer had imported 20 walking catfish from a shipper in Indonesia, with a customer referred to as “DEARBN,” the customer name for Pet Station, according to import records.

The agent then cross-referenced injurious species permits to see if Pet Station had one; it didn’t.

In March of last year, the agent called Thacker and said he had a friend who was interested in a snakehead after seeing his redline. Thacker said he would sell her one on the condition the agent vouched for her. In April, the agent called Thacker and said his friend was in town and arranged a meeting. The “friend” was also an undercover agent and struck a deal to buy nine Ocellated snakeheads for $450. According to the complaint, Thacker even threw an extra snakehead for free because the agent who arranged the meeting was a “good customer.”

Following a subsequent undercover buy, USFW agents obtained a search warrant and raided Thacker’s house. Thacker agreed to talk and said that he was selling the fish for Khatib, because Khatib didn’t want them in his store.

According to the complaint, Khatib later confirmed Thacker’s account when investigators paid him a house call.

The criminal charges against Khatib are just the latest to be tied to Pet Station in recent months. Stemming from an animal cruelty investigation, authorities raided the store in April and seized more than 100 animals. Ramzi Daklallah, the now former owner, faces one charge of felony animal cruelty and dozens more for violating state pet store regulations.

J. Patrick Pepper can be reached at 1-734-246-2702 or at
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,368
Fishy crime: Feds charge two men with selling illegal snakehead fish, 'walking catfish'

http://www.freep.com/...­

2:19 PM, June 5, 2012 |

A worker at the Khaiseng Fish Farm displays a snakehead fish which has been harvested and put on its way to a Singaporean dinner table, Saturday, July 27, 2002 in Singapore. / AP file photo

By Tresa Baldas

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Related Links
Man charged with selling live Asian carp to DNR agents in Midland

Northern Snakehead Fish / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Talk about a crime that smells fishy.

Two local men are facing federal criminal charges for allegedly selling walking catfish and snakehead fish, which are both considered top-level predators that have no natural enemies outside their environment.

The common name “walking fish” comes from the fish’s ability to “walk” from one water body to another during wet seasons using its fins. Not only can they breathe air, authorities say, but these fish can survive on land for up to four days – provided they are wet – and are know to migrate up to a quarter-mile on wet land to other bodies of water by wriggling with their body and fins.

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court, a covert operation involving the predatory fish led to charges against Daniel Thacker of Wayne and Ash Khatib of Dearborn Heights. According to the complaint, the men, who have not yet been arrested, were charged following a two-year investigation that involved a confidential informant who had bought two walking catfish from Khatib’s pet store in Dearborn.

Khatib, 39, told the Free Press in a phone interview today that he had no idea that the walking catfish fish were an invasive species and that selling them was illegal.

“It was just like a stupid mistake. We should have disposed of them … but most of them died in transit,” Khatib told the Free Press. “It’s not like I was trying to make a killing on it. It was a mistake.”

Khatib also said that he “didn’t make a penny” selling the catfish.

“I’m not like trying to do some underground thing. I gave them away,” said Khatib, who is now unemployed.

Khatib said he had heard stories about walking catfish escaping in places like Florida, and that they created problems for farmers down there. He said he doubted that the fish would be problematic in Michigan, and that they would likely die in cold weather if they tried to escape here.

Per court records, here is what led to the discovery of a fishy operation:

In 2009, a confidential informant bought two walking catfish for $14 apiece from the Pet Station pet store in Dearborn in 2009. The next year, an under-cover agent with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service went to the pet shop and asked if the store had any walking catfish, which he learned it did: One was priced at $79.99.

Four days later, the agent went back and met the store’s owner, Khatib. He again asked for a walking catfish, and learned that one was in the store’s goldfish pond. The agent made several attempts to catch it, but was unsuccessful. He then asked if the store could get more. Khatib said that he could, that the fish were imported from Indonesia, and that he would call when the fish arrived.

Three days later, the agent received a voice mail message from the Pet Station that the walking fish had been captured, and was being held for him. The agent bought it for $15.89 from the station.

The next month, the agent went back to the same store and asked for a snakehead. Khatib said “selling snakehead fish was like selling drugs because it was illegal.” But the agent persisted, and went back to the store a few weeks later for the snakehead fish. That’s when he met a man known as “Tiny,” who turned out to be Thacker.

Thacker invited the agent to his home in Wayne, where he had roughly 100 snakehead fish in two aquariums and a small plastic swimming pool. Thacker told the agent it was very risky to “bring them in,” and that he would have to pay a $10,000 fine per fish if he was caught.

The agent bought one snakehead fish from Thacker for $100.

The agent eventually discovered that fish were imported in July 2009 from a shipper in Jakarta, Indonesia, to an Ohio fish importer. They were being imported for a customer referred to as “DEARBN.” Upon further investigation, it was learned that a shipping company called Coral Fish Center routinely imported live tropical fish for local pet stores, including Pet Station, which was referred to as “DEARBN” in import records.

The agent made several more trips to Thacker’s home, and bought more illegal snakeheads.

On July 28, 2011, federal agents executed a search warrant at Thacker’s home and seized several snakehead fish, two computers and a memory card.

Thacker, per court records, cooperated with authorities, and fessed up that he was getting the snakehead fish from Khatib, who was getting them from a fish importer in Sylvania, Ohio. Thacker admitted that the fish were smuggled into the U.S., and that he made less than $5,000 selling them, per court records.

Thacker also told authorities that Khatib asked him to sell the snakehead fish out of his home because he knew they were illegal, and didn’t want to sell them out of his store, per court records.

Thacker could not be reached for comment.

A month later, agents went to Khatib’s home to question him. Khatib, per records, cooperated and also admitted to selling the illegal fish.

If convicted, the men face up to five years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The Pet Station store, which closed down amidst the investigation, is now called Tailfins LLC.

The current owner, Tristan Nish, said that he had heard about the walking catfish investigation at Pet Station.

“They did have quite a bit of trouble with that,” Nish said.

Nish said that he knew Khatib and that Khatib is not allowed on the premises of his store.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,375


DEARBORN HEIGHTS: Pet Station in further trouble over selling invasive fish

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

By J. Patrick Pepper

http://www.thenewsher...­

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Federal authorities last week alleged even more fishy business at Pet Station, this time charging a manager with selling invasive fish species.

In a criminal complaint filed June 4 in U.S. District Court in Detroit, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agent alleges that Ash Khatib, a manager at the store, 5317 S. Telegraph Road, provided him with walking catfish and connected him with a dealer of snakehead fish.

Both species are considered invasive to the United States and share a unique trait — they can wriggle on land for up to a quarter-mile, bouncing from body of water to body of water, provided they stay moist. Natives of Southeast Asia, the fish are known for their voracious appetites and are without natural predators in North America.

The investigation began in June 2010 with a tip from a confidential informant. According to the complaint, the informant purchased two walking catfish at Pet Station over the previous year for about $14 each.

The agent went to Pet Station a few days later and asked about purchasing one of the whiskered ichthyoids. A store employee identified only as “Mike” allegedly told the agent he had one large walking catfish for $79.99 and that he could order smaller ones for $14.99. A few days later, the agent returned to the store and met with Khatib, a Dearborn Heights resident, about buying the walking catfish. A few days later, Khatib sold one to the agent for $15.89, according to the complaint.

The agent returned to the store the next month to ask about snakeheads. Khatib said he did not stock the fish because “selling snakehead fish was like selling drugs because it was illegal.” However, the agent said, Khatib offered to connect him with someone who could help.

A couple of weeks later, the agent went to Pet Station for a meeting with the snakehead dealer, who introduced himself as “Tiny.” Tiny said he had snakeheads and gave the agent his phone number. That day, the agent met Tiny at his house in Wayne.

Tiny, whose name is Daniel Thacker, was well aware of the criminal implications of selling the fish, the agent said. He talked about the risk of “bringing them in” and said he could be fined $10,000 for each fish if caught. The agent ended up buying one redline snakehead for $100 cash.

The agent then reviewed customs declarations, discovering that an Ohio fish importer had imported 20 walking catfish from a shipper in Indonesia, with a customer referred to as “DEARBN,” the customer name for Pet Station, according to import records.

The agent then cross-referenced injurious species permits to see if Pet Station had one; it didn’t.

In March 2011, the agent called Thacker and said he had a friend who was interested in a snakehead after seeing his redline. Thacker said he would sell her one on the condition the agent vouched for her. In April, the agent called Thacker and said his friend was in town and arranged a meeting. The “friend” also was an undercover agent and struck a deal to buy nine ocellated snakeheads for $450. According to the complaint, Thacker included an extra snakehead free because the agent who arranged the meeting was a “good customer.”

After a subsequent undercover buy, Fish & Wildlife Service agents obtained a search warrant and raided Thacker’s house. Thacker agreed to talk and said he was selling the fish for Khatib, because Khatib didn’t want them in his store.

According to the complaint, Khatib confirmed Thacker’s account when investigators visited him.

The criminal charges against Khatib are just the latest to be tied to Pet Station in recent months. Stemming from an animal cruelty investigation, authorities raided the store in April and seized more than 100 animals. Ramzi Daklallah, the now-former owner, faces one charge of felony animal cruelty and dozens of other charges for violating state pet store regulations.

J. Patrick Pepper can be reached at 1-734-246-2702 or at . Follow him on Twitter @jpeppernews.

Read Pepper's previous story on this issue.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,376
6/12/12 DEARBORN HEIGHTS: Pet Station in further trouble over selling invasive fish (The News Herald)
http://www.thenewsher...­

6/10/12 Pet store manager faces charges for selling invasive species (Heritage)
http://www.heritage.c...­

6/8/12 Pet store accused of selling invasive fish... (Royal Oak Daily Tribune)
http://www.dailytribu...­

6/5/12 Metro Detroit men accused of selling predatory fish (Detroit Free Press)
http://www.freep.com/...­

6/8/12 Pet store manager accused of selling illegal, invasive fish species (Press & Guide)
http://www.pressandgu...­

6/5/12 Fishy crime: Feds charge two men with selling illegal snakehead fish, 'walking catfish' (Detroit Free Press)
http://www.freep.com/...­






4/13/12 Dearborn Heights Pet Store Owner Arrested for Animal Cruelty (Press & Guide)
http://www.pressandgu...­


4/12/12 Chaos at a Dearborn Heights pet store results in an 8-year-old's missing puppy (WXYZ Chl 7)
http://www.wxyz.com/d...­

4/11/12 Officials take dozens of pets from Dearborn Heights pet store after owner charged with cruelty (Channel 7 WXYZ)
http://www.wxyz.com/d...­


4/12/12 Dearborn Heights Pet Store Owner Arrested for Animal Cruelty (Patch)
http://dearborn.patch...­

4/11/12 Dearborn Heights pet store accused of animal cruelty (Detroit Free Press0
http://www.freep.com/...­

4/11/12 Pet Shop Owner Arrested In Case Of ‘Horrific Abuse’(CBS Detroit)
http://detroit.cbsloc...­

4/11/12 Local pet store shut down, owner arrested
http://www.pressandgu...­

4/11/12 'Deplorable' cases highlight inadequate animal cruelty laws, prosecutor says
http://www.detroitnew...­

4/11/12 Animal Cruelty Alleged at Dearborn Heights Pet Shop
http://www.myfoxdetro...­


Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,377


Meetup Members,

If you haven’t been following our Facebook postings or
Pet Station Message Board, you are missing all drama
surrounding Pet Station (Dearborn Heights). Authorities
have hit the store hard from all directions.

Last week, the pet store manager faced charges for selling
invasive species after a federal undercover investigation.
In April the pet store owner was charged with 37 counts
related to animals and the store 17 charges.

Justice is being served and PMA is following these cases closely.

Tomorrow, Ramzi Dakhlallah, will face Judge David A. Groner
at the Wayne County Circuit Court for a Disposition Conference.
He has one more chance to plead guilty or go to trial. If the
case goes to trail, one of our members will be testifying and
we will be joining her.

It has become very unpopular to sell live animals.
Jessie D.
flowerchildofjc
Ypsilanti, MI
Post #: 16
What happened in court yesterday?
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,405
DETROIT: Pet Station owner pleads guilty to animal cruelty, other charges



Pet Station owner facing 4 years in prison


Published: Friday, August 17, 2012
ttp://www.pressandguide.com/articles/2012/08/17/none/doc502ebc0ae4bdf949079764.txt?viewmode=fullstory­

By Joe Slezak Twitter @ JoeSlezak1

DETROIT — Ramzi Dakhlallah, who was charged with several counts of animal cruelty after authorities raided his pet store in Dearborn Heights on April 11, pleaded guilty to several charges Friday before Wayne County Circuit Judge Thomas Jackson.

Daklallah, 41, owned Pet Station, 5317 S. Telegraph Road, two blocks north of Van Born Road, where authorities seized more than 200 animals.

He pleaded guilty to one count of abandon/cruelty to 10 or more animals; one count of false pretenses, $200 to $1,000; one count of writing a check with nonsufficient funds; 20 counts of pet shop violations; one count of pet shop rule violations; and 11 counts of Animal Industry Act rule violations.

He will be sentenced Sept. 12 and is facing four years or more in prison.

Daklallah is free on a $25,000 cash or surety bond for himself and a $10,000 personal bond for Pet Station.

Pet Station had been in business since the late 1970s, and Daklallah bought it about five years ago.

Authorities said they began receiving complaints about Pet Station in July 2009 and started investigating. They allegedly found dead animals on the floor; scarce food and water for the animals; and urine and feces in cages. The business was accused of selling sick pets and pets falsely advertised as having their vaccinations to unknowing customers.

One complaint from the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society in 2010 was that there was a dead puppy in a cage and other puppies were jumping around it. When employees were told, they allegedly waited on several customers before placing the dead puppy in a plastic shopping bag without checking its pulse and putting it in a back room.

“The conditions were worse than we thought,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Parisa Kiani said at Daklallah’s arraignment April 11 before 20th District Judge David Turfe. “This isn’t a case of neglect. This is a case of cruelty, your honor, and this is something that has been going on for two years.”

Dearborn Heights police and the Michigan Humane Society seized 20 dogs and 70 birds, along with guinea pigs, hamsters, frogs, snakes, lizards, tarantulas, chinchillas, mice and rats. More than 200 animals went into the care of the Humane Society, which reported that a lizard and a puppy died within 24 hours of the raid. The Humane Society offered some of the animals for adoption; some were sent to transfer partners for specialized care.

Daklallah maintained that he kept “stacks” of business records in accordance with state law, had a five-day return policy on any pet he sold, offered free veterinary check-ups before sales were final and personally inoculated each puppy that he sold, which prosecutors disputed.

He said at the time that there had been some complaints about his store, but they were outweighed by satisfied customers.

“I sell 50 puppies a month,” he said at the time. “If you have like five unhealthy, (it) doesn’t mean I’m not good.”

In a related case, federal charges were dismissed June 25 against two men accused of selling invasive fish species. One of the men, Ash Khatib, managed Pet Station and allegedly sold a walking catfish to an undercover U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agent and connected the agent with a snakehead fish dealer.

The other man who was charged, Daniel Thacker of Wayne, allegedly sold a redline snakehead to the agent. Thacker allegedly later sold 10 ocellated snakeheads to another undercover agent.

Federal authorities raided Thacker’s house, and he allegedly told them that he was selling the fish for Khatib because he didn’t want them in the store. Khatib allegedly confirmed Thacker’s account.

Khatib and Thacker were charged June 4 before U.S. Magistrate David Grand.

Authorities moved June 22 to dismiss the charges because they said they couldn’t properly prosecute the case within 30 days. They said they needed more time to develop and obtain evidence, identify who should be held criminally responsible and decide whether to prosecute them.

U.S. Magistrate Steven Whalen dismissed the charges without prejudice three days later.

(Staff Writer J. Patrick Pepper contributed to this report.)

Contact Staff Writer Joe Slezak at 1-734-246-0835. Follow him on Twitter @ JoeSlezak1.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,408
Former Heights Pet Station owner
pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges


Published: Monday, August 20, 2012

By Joe Slezak
Press & Guide Newspapers
Twitter @ JoeSlezak1

http://www.pressandgu...­


Press & Guide file photo Ramzi Daklallah stands at his April 11 arraignment on animal cruelty and related charges in 20th District Court. Daklallah, a 41-year-old Dearborn Heights resident, owned Pet Station in south Dearborn Heights.


DETROIT — Ramzi Dakhlallah, who was charged with several counts of animal cruelty after authorities raided his pet store in Dearborn Heights on April 11, pleaded guilty to several charges Friday before Wayne County Circuit Judge Thomas Jackson.

Daklallah, 41, owned Pet Station, 5317 S. Telegraph Road, two blocks north of Van Born Road, where authorities seized more than 200 animals.

He pleaded guilty to one count of abandon/cruelty to 10 or more animals; one count of false pretenses, $200 to $1,000; one count of writing a check with nonsufficient funds; 20 counts of pet shop violations; one count of pet shop rule violations; and 11 counts of Animal Industry Act rule violations.

He will be sentenced Sept. 12 and is facing four years or more in prison.

Daklallah is free on a $25,000 cash or surety bond for himself and a $10,000 personal bond for Pet Station.

Pet Station had been in business since the late 1970s, and Daklallah bought it about five years ago.

Authorities said they began receiving complaints about Pet Station in July 2009 and started investigating. They allegedly found dead animals on the floor; scarce food and water for the animals; and urine and feces in cages. The business was accused of selling sick pets and pets falsely advertised as having their vaccinations to unknowing customers.

One complaint from the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society in 2010 was that there was a dead puppy in a cage and other puppies were jumping around it. When employees were told, they allegedly waited on several customers before placing the dead puppy in a plastic shopping bag without checking its pulse and putting it in a back room.

“The conditions were worse than we thought,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Parisa Kiani said at Daklallah’s arraignment April 11 before 20th District Judge David Turfe. “This isn’t a case of neglect. This is a case of cruelty, your honor, and this is something that has been going on for two years.”

Dearborn Heights police and the Michigan Humane Society seized 20 dogs and 70 birds, along with guinea pigs, hamsters, frogs, snakes, lizards, tarantulas, chinchillas, mice and rats. More than 200 animals went into the care of the Humane Society, which reported that a lizard and a puppy died within 24 hours of the raid. The Humane Society offered some of the animals for adoption; some were sent to transfer partners for specialized care.

Daklallah maintained that he kept “stacks” of business records in accordance with state law, had a five-day return policy on any pet he sold, offered free veterinary check-ups before sales were final and personally inoculated each puppy that he sold, which prosecutors disputed.

He said at the time that there had been some complaints about his store, but they were outweighed by satisfied customers.

“I sell 50 puppies a month,” he said at the time. “If you have like five unhealthy, (it) doesn’t mean I’m not good.”

In a related case, federal charges were dismissed June 25 against two men accused of selling invasive fish species. One of the men, Ash Khatib, managed Pet Station and allegedly sold a walking catfish to an undercover U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agent and connected the agent with a snakehead fish dealer.

The other man who was charged, Daniel Thacker of Wayne, allegedly sold a redline snakehead to the agent. Thacker allegedly later sold 10 ocellated snakeheads to another undercover agent.

Federal authorities raided Thacker’s house, and he allegedly told them that he was selling the fish for Khatib because he didn’t want them in the store. Khatib allegedly confirmed Thacker’s account.

Khatib and Thacker were charged June 4 before U.S. Magistrate David Grand.

Authorities moved June 22 to dismiss the charges because they said they couldn’t properly prosecute the case within 30 days. They said they needed more time to develop and obtain evidence, identify who should be held criminally responsible and decide whether to prosecute them.

U.S. Magistrate Steven Whalen dismissed the charges without prejudice three days later.

(Staff Writer J. Patrick Pepper contributed to this report.)

Contact Staff Writer Joe Slezak at 1-734-246-0835 or . Follow him on Twitter @ JoeSlezak1.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,440
Meetup Members

Today, the owner of Pet Station, Ramzi Dakhlallah, was sentenced to 5 years probation, restitution to-be-determined (est over $10,000) and 20 hours of community service. He is not allowed to possess, harbor, sell, import, breed, or transport animals during this probation period. If he violates his proabtion, he could go to jail.

Ramzi’s attorney stated that Ramzi accepted responsibility and he suffered from “sloppy business ownership”. He was in over his head. His business was shut down and he can not earn a living. He is devastated. It has been eye opening experience.

When the judge asked him if he had anything to say Ramzi said “I just want to put this behind my back”.

Judge Jackson said he sees 1-2 cases at this level. Troubled case. He did receive several letters from the community and organizations.

For more details on the April 2012 seizure of 275 animals go to our Meetup discussion thread on this case.

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