Flimflam suspect nabbed with pups

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

A woman charged with conning people out of hundreds of dollars and the puppies they thought they were buying was nabbed Thursday night in Texas, thanks to several Crime Line callers.

The suspect, 35-year old Monica Arnold, is also known as Monica Binkley and Monica Brinkley. Police charge that she sold the puppies from her home and then disappeared with the pups and the cash deposits people had paid for them. Most of the puppies were to have been Christmas gifts.

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When Arnold was apprehended near Amarillo, Texas, she still had numerous puppies with her; according to Suffolk Police Lieutenant Debbie J. George.

The lieutenant said Virginia Beach Police Detective Chris Phillips also assisted by following up on the Crime Line call. Assisted by law enforcement in both Hudginson and Potter counties, Texas, Arnold was arrested without incident.

At least seven local families were disappointed in Arnold’s scheme, said George.

&uot;This woman caused a lot of disappointment when she didn’t deliver on the puppies,&uot; said George. &uot;She placed ads in local newspapers selling spaniels, labs, and English lab puppies. Then, when people responded to the ads, they were invited to come to 909 Murphy’s Mill Road, to pick out their puppy. They also paid deposits for the puppies.&uot;

According to the lieutenant, some of the new &uot;owners&uot; even had their photos made with their puppy before leaving the property after arranging with Arnold to pick up their puppy on Christmas Eve. The lieutenant said at least two buyers also spent a lot of money on puppy supplies, bedding, and other items expecting to bring their little charges home.

&uot;Arnold and the puppies were gone,&uot; said George. &uot;The puppies were sold in October to at least seven victims we know of, and we believe their may be more. Each of them paid between $200 and $400 deposit, and of course, they are out that money.&uot;

Rae Ann Smith of Newport News said she was one of the people bilked out of her money.

&uot;I saw the ad in the newspaper and it stated the puppies were AKC certified, and we called and set a date to go to 909 Murphy’s Mill Road to meet the litter and choose a puppy,&uot; said Smith. &uot;When I arrived, there were four puppies to choose from. I had planned to pick up the puppy on Christmas Eve, and she had given me a list of things the puppy would need to go home with me. She seemed to be a professional and she assured that the cocker spaniel was registered with the American Kennel Club.&uot;

Smith said she called at one point to let Arnold know she was coming to visit the puppy, and she was told power lines were down on the property, so she canceled that visit.

When Smith finally arrived at the residence, she found it empty and no one around. Another couple arrived at the same time, and all three were scratching their heads in wonder as they examined several letters posted to the door from others also looking for their puppies.

&uot;The other woman’s husband went to look in the windows and we saw that the house had not been lived in,&uot; said Smith. &uot;We all agreed we’d been the victim of some kind of scam. We called Suffolk Police, and they were awesome and eager to help us.&uot;

Smith said she was so disappointed for her friend who was to receive the puppy as a Christmas gift. She also said she could not imagine the other couple having to explain to their child that Santa didn’t bring their puppy.

&uot;She knew these puppies were to be gifts, and she didn’t care,&uot; said Smith. &uot;I know we will never recover our money, but this has taught me to check references before dealing with anyone on something like this again,&uot; said Smith. &uot;We never did get our puppy, and we are still returning items we’d purchased for what was to be our baby.&uot;

The latest incident isn’t Arnold’s first brush with the law. In June 2001, she was charged with larceny when a Poquoson woman left a cocker spaniel and three puppies in Arnold’s care while on vacation. She returned to be told the mother dog had killed the pups, but when a friend of the victim visited Arnold later, she spotted the three puppies.

A couple months later, Arnold told police that someone had shot two of her dogs inside their fence. One of the Labrador retrievers died, the other was seriously injured.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also received numerous complaints on Arnold’s treatment of animals.

Police Detective E.C. Harris continues his investigation into Arnold’s activities, and asks that anyone who was a victim call him at 923-2193.