Fields’ survivors charged in Love & Care case

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1996:

MONTGOMERY, Ala.––
Attorney general Jeff Sessions on
February 28 announced the indictments of
Ronald Lee Denney, 30, Tina Elizabeth
(Fields) Denney, 33, and H. Louis Jones,
DVM, for criminal conspiracy. The trio
allegedly diverted donations to the former
Love & Care for God’s Animalife no-kill
shelter to their own newly formed organization,
Saving Animals From Euthanasia.
They were also indicted for allegedly
receiving stolen property, misrepresenting
themselves in order to adopt eight
dogs and 12 cats who were evacuated
from the Love & Care premises to a temporary
adoption center set up in
Montgomery by the North Shore Animal
League and the Montgomery County
Humane Society. They then claimed in a
funding appeal that they had saved the
animals’ lives.
Earlier, the Denneys and Jones
issued numerous appeals, apparently
using the Love & Care mailing list,
asserting that court-appointed receiver
Alan Cory intended to euthanize the 754
animals who were left after Tina
Denney’s mother, Ann Fields, 49, died
suddenly on October 21, 1995, at home
in Indian Wells, California, while facing
legal action for fraud begun by assistant
Alabama attorney general Dennis Wright
in June 1995. The action originated in
part out of a dossier on Love & Care compiled
by ANIMAL PEOPLE from 1988
to 1994 and forwarded to Wright’s predecessor
on the case.
In fact, 484 dogs and 198 cats
from Love & Care were placed for adoption
or lifelong shelter care, while 27
dogs and 45 cats died or were euthanized.
Other leaders in the placement effort
included the Alabama Federation of
Animal Control and Humane Societies,
the Chicago-based Society of St. Francis,
and the Humane Society of North Pinellas
County, of Clearwater, Florida.
Millions
The Denneys and Jones were all
long associated with Love & Care,
founded by Ann Fields in Rockdale
County, Georgia, in 1963, but not
incorporated until 1976. Sued as an
alleged public nuisance in 1979, Love &
Care was ordered to move in 1984.
Fields and her first husband,
Jerry Fields, opened a second shelter;
turned over management of both facilities
to Ronald Denney; and moved to
California to evade arrest. They already
drew more than $1 million a year in donations,
but still pleaded dire poverty in
“urgent” appeals, often bearing handwritten
notes about fictitious disasters.
The Georgia secretary of state
revoked Love & Care’s charitable status
in 1987. In November 1989, Rockdale
County closed the two Love & Care shelters;
Fields moved some animals to a new
site near Andalusia, Alabama, where it
was soon business as usual.
Fields reportedly visited the
Andalusia shelter just once. She divorced
Jerry Fields and married a much younger
man, Victor Lagunas, in 1993. Some
sources have identified Lagunas to A N IMAL
PEOPLE as being actually the
boyfriend of longtime employee Linda
Lewis. In June 1994, Fields announced
the firing of Ronald Denney, whom she
accused in the Love & Care newsletter of
stealing equipment and running drugs.
Lewis purportedly quit in September
1994, providing damaging information
about Love & Care to the Alabama Office
of the Attorney General.
Suicide
Fields’ body was purportedly
discovered by Lagunas and also identified
by Jerry Fields and Lewis, who told
police she was Fields’ “daughter, but not
by blood.” According to information
received by ANIMAL PEOPLE f r o m
sources close to the investigation, Fields’
death, from an overdose of Propoxyphene
(Darvon), in a horse-sized capsule, was
first classed as a homicide. It was
reclassed a suicide because there were no
marks on her body indicating that the
ingestion of the drug might have been
forced. The body was released by the
coroner on October 24 and buried in
Mexico two days later.
The Love & Care shelter was
burned as a public health hazard following
the removal of the animals.
Authorites continue to seek Fields’ assets;
at her death, she owed more than $1 million
in unpaid taxes.

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