‘I’m human,’ alleged puppy scammer pleads

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Puppies from the same litters were assigned different litter registration numbers.

Contracts to dog buyers showed discrepancies in the puppies’ parental lineage.

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A contract specifically stating a cocker spaniel was &uot;being sold with full registration&uot; – even though the puppy’s litter had never been registered with the American Kennel Club.

These were just a few of questions put to alleged puppy scammer Monica Binkley in Suffolk Circuit Court Tuesday, during several hours of cross-examination by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Susan Walden. Binkley – known to many of her puppy buyers as Monica Arnold – will take the stand again this morning as the trial moves into its fourth day.

Binkley, 35, made the national spotlight last December after she fled to Texas with a U-Haul trailer filled with more than 50 puppies, most of which had already been sold. In Western Tidewater Regional Jail since her extradition back to Virginia last January, Binkley is being tried on 27 counts of taking money under false pretenses and one count of writing a worthless check.

Judge J. Warren Stephens tossed out one false pretense charge Monday, following a witness’ testimony that she didn’t care whether her animal was AKC-registered.

Most of the 24 &uot;so-called victims&uot; who said she told them at the time of purchase that their puppies had already been registered with the AKC either &uot;misunderstood&uot; or &uot;misrepresented&uot; themselves in court, Binkley said.

Binkley acknowledged making only a couple of mistakes on contracts, saying that errors in litter and dog identification numbers generated by her computer were &uot;typos.&uot;

&uot;I’m human,&uot; Binkley said. &uot;I obviously made a mistake.&uot;

She refused to estimate how many dogs she has sold over the last few years, saying she would need access to her handwritten records to answer the question.

&uot;Essentially, you were running a puppy mill,&uot; Walton said. &uot;You were trying to maximize the number of puppies produced.&uot;

Binkley denied the allegation.

Several witnesses testified last week that Binkley told them she was a veterinarian. She told the court last week that she is actually a trained vet technician and that she never portrayed herself as a vet.

On Tuesday, when Walton produced a copy of a check showing Binkley’s signature, followed by D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), Binkley only said she couldn’t make out the letters.

She also disputed charges made by at least two victims who said the &uot;pedigree&uot; cockers they purchased from Binkley appear to have features more common to labs, including unusually coarse hair and the shape of their heads.

Binkley said she bred both cockers and English Labrador retrievers, who typically had the run of her 51-acre farm. But, she said the animals were separated when they were in heat.

Glancing at photographs Tuesday, Binkley questioned whether one pictured dog actually came from her litters. And the other &uot;looks like a cocker spaniel that has been shaved short to me,&uot; Binkley said.