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Press Release

46

Larry Hart - Raccoon Charges Dropped


Charges dropped against Pasco Humane Society director

By Molly Moorhead, Times Staff Writer 
In Print: Saturday, October 3, 2009

NEW PORT RICHEY — Prosecutors have dropped charges against Ed Alcorn, the Humane Society director arrested last month in a flap over his possession of some baby raccoons.

The State Attorney's Office decided not to file formal charges on the misdemeanors Alcorn faced: possession of wildlife without a permit and interfering with a law enforcement officer/refusal to sign a citation.

On Sept. 3, someone dropped off three orphaned baby raccoons at the animal shelter in Shady Hills. Alcorn soon got a call from someone asking when he was going to take them to a licensed animal rehabilitation facility.

Alcorn runs the Humane Society of Pasco County with his wife, Sheri, caring for everything from cats and dogs to deer and donkeys. He contended that he was authorized to care for the raccoons.

The next morning, an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showed up. The agency said that Alcorn could not show proof that he is a licensed humane officer, authorized by the state to keep the animals.

The wildlife officer gave Alcorn the option of handing over the raccoons without penalty, but Alcorn refused and was cited for possession of wildlife without a permit. He would not sign the citation, resulting in a charge of interfering with a law enforcement officer/refusal to sign a citation. He went to jail for a few hours before posting $150 bail.

Alcorn's attorney, J. Larry Hart, said he provided prosecutors with proof of Alcorn's status as a licensed humane officer. He also said the charge stemming from the citation was off base.

"It's a violation to refuse to accept (a citation)," Hart said. "It's silent as to signing."

Alcorn declined to comment, referring questions to Hart. A Fish and Wildlife spokesman had not learned of the charges being dropped and had no comment.

Hart said the development is vindication for Alcorn, who has run the Humane Society for 20 years and lives on the Harmon Drive property. He said he appreciated prosecutors' "honest assessment of the facts and the law."

"It's nice to know that actual innocence matters," Hart said. "This is just a guy working for the Humane Society trying to take care of baby raccoons."