PHOENIX – A Maricopa County Grand Jury has reinstated animal cruelty charges against the owners of Green Acre Boarding in Gilbert in connection with the deaths of 21 dogs and the injury of four others that occurred in June, 2014. Jesse Todd Hughes (D.O.B. 9/28/1982) and Maleisa Maurine Hughes (D.O.B. 9/10/1969) each face 21 Class 6 felony counts and 7 Class 1 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. Both also face one Class 2 felony count of fraudulent schemes and artifices. Prosecutors had previously dismissed animal cruelty charges filed in an earlier indictment against the couple and two other defendants who served as caretakers of the boarding facility pending further review of available information and consultation with experts.
“The dismissal of the original charges provided us with a critical window of opportunity to review additional information that called into question the initial theory of the case,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I am confident that this process has established the requisite evidentiary basis to support criminal charges against the owners of the facility for allegations of causing the deaths of these beloved animals and for receiving a benefit through fraudulent means,” he added.
Montgomery further stated, “As with every case this Office prosecutes, this charging decision is based solely on an objective assessment of the facts and evidence without regard to impermissible influence.”
On June 21, 2014, more than 20 dead and injured dogs were discovered at Green Acre Boarding near Greenfield and Queen Creek Roads in Gilbert. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation and submitted their findings to the County Attorney’s Office on August 27, 2014. On October 13, 2014, a Grand Jury charged Jesse and Maleisa Hughes with one count of fraud and, along with Austin and Logan Flake, multiple counts of animal cruelty. On December 22, 2014, prosecutors announced the dismissal without prejudice of the animal cruelty counts, leaving the fraud count against Jesse and Maleisa Hughes.
An arraignment on the current charges is scheduled for June 3, 2015. All defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.