Serenity Springs cofounder Nick Sculac convicted

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)

COLORADO SPRINGS–Serenity Springs Wildlife Center cofounder
Nick Sculac, 60, was on October 26, 2010 sentenced to serve six
years in a halfway house, with probation possible in six to eight
months. The conviction was Sculac’s third for felony theft, but
Colorado mandates a life sentence for a third felony conviction only
if the felonies involve violence.
“When a volunteer was mauled by a tiger last year,”
explained R. Scott Rappold of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Sculac
bilked the man out of $40,500 by falsely claiming– according to
court documents–that he faced fines from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and that amount was his share. The USDA is still
investigating the April 2009 mauling and has not issued a fine. The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the sanctuary
$7,000,” Rappold added.

The volunteer, Michael McCain, of Telluride, was hurt in
April 2009. In May 2009, wrote Rappold, “according to an arrest
affidavit, Sculac told McCain that the sanctuary would be shut down
and the animals killed” if an escrow account was used to pay the
fines. “The next day,” Rappold summarized, “McCain, pooling money
from his business and friends and family, wired Sculac the money.”
“Court records show Sculac was charged with theft in 1984,
1991, 1993, 2001 and 2002,” Rappold continued, “and he has
repeatedly battled with creditors.”
In the 2002 case, Rappold summarized, “Sculac was accused
of taking money for projects in his (former) contracting business and
not carrying out the work and also taking payment for medical
supplies in another business and not delivering. The charges were
eventually dropped and Sculac paid restitution.” Sculac’s medical
supply firm, Colorado Medical Equipment, was subject of further
complaints between April 2005 and May 2006 from customers who said
they bought items they did not receive, but were billed for extra
shipping and storage fees due to alleged complications in delivery.
Nick and his wife of 27 years, Karen Sculac, 47,
cofounded Big Cats of Serenity Springs in 1993, initially to breed
and sell exotic cats. They turned to rescue in 1995. Struggling to
raise operating costs, the Sculacs sold 303 acres of their 320-acre
property, piece by piece, then lost their home to foreclosure in
2005, Karen Sculac told ANIMAL PEOPLE, claiming Nick Sculac had
suffered a major heart attack that obliged him to give up his
contracting firm. Karen Sculac, then 47, died in 2006 from
complications of pneumonia.
“Nick Sculac decided to keep the sanctuary going, ” Rappold
recounted. “But financial and legal problems continued. He was sued
in 2007 by a former attorney, who claimed he owed $5,794 in legal
bills. In 2008, Memorial Hospital sued him for $2,700 over unpaid
medical bills. In April, a motorcycle he bought for $14,000 was
repossessed. The sanctuary property has been in and out of
foreclosure several times. Sculac no longer owns the property,”
Rappold added. “The name was changed from Big Cats of Serenity
Springs to Serenity Springs Wildlife Center, formed in 2008 by Julie
Walker, who owns the home that Sculac listed as his home address in
court records.”
The Serenity Springs Wildlife Center currently houses 138 big
cats. “Things are going to go on as usual,” Walker told Rappold.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.