Nicole Simeone was asked to help finding a woman’s lost dog because of her work at a local animal rescue. But when the dog was returned to Simeone, she demanded money from the owner, called her a vulgarity and liar in Spanish and threatened to call immigration authorities, according to Bradenton police.
Meanwhile, the animal rescue group, Bailey’s Way Rescue, is under investigation for continuing to solicit donations after losing its nonprofit status with the IRS.
“Ms. Simeone told her Blanca was taken under a 501c3 rescue and she will have to fill out an application to adopt her own dog, pass a background check and home inspection to get her back,” Bradenton police Detective Lixa Moyett wrote in an affidavit.
Simeone was arrested on Oct. 22 and charged with grand theft. She was released from the Manatee County jail on a $10,000 bond.
Bailey’s Way Rescue is under investigation after law enforcement learned that Simeone, the president of Bailey’s Way Rescue, and Katherine “Kathy” Walker were soliciting donations after the rescue’s 501c3 nonprofit status with the IRS expired on Sept. 30.
Walker was arrested last week and charged with aggravated animal cruelty and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
On Sept. 3, a woman reported to the Bradenton Police Department that her dog had been stolen from her property on June 23, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. The dog, Blanca, had been tethered in area of the front porch of the home and her collar had not been left behind, and there was no damage to the clasp of the chain.
Through Facebook, Blanca’s owner found Simeone who identified herself as working with Bailey’s Way Rescue and asked for her help in finding Blanca. The two women began exchanging text messages, Facebook instant messages and even became Facebook friends.
On Sept. 2, Simeone instant messaged Blanca’s owner to tell her she had Blanca, according to the report. But the dog’s owner said, that despite her multiple requests, Simone refused to return Blanca.
Simone instead began to insult her, calling her a vulgarity and a liar in Spanish. She also attempted to intimidate the dog’s owner by threatening to call immigration authorities on her. Simone later sent a text message saying she had taken Blanca to the veterinarian, accompanied by a laughing emoji.
In order to get Blanca back, Simone told her owner she would have to pay her $325.
Simeone was contacted by Bradenton police and came in for an interview on Sept. 15. During the recorded interview, Simeone told detectives she made posters with Blanca’s photo, information and her own phone number.
On June 25, she said she was contacted by a veterinarian who had found Blanca running lose and that the veterinarian had told that Blanca’s owner had responded to a call. Simeone took custody of the Blanca but did not call her owner.
“Simeone stated in a recorded interview that it was not her responsibility to call her,” Moyett wrote.
She admitted to police, however, that on June 29 she had sent Blanca’s owner an instant message to ask if she had found Blanca. Simone also admitted, according to police, that she had sent the dog’s owner a text message telling her she had Blanca and that she had demanded the money, saying it was for adoption fees and medical treatment.