Pet microchip clinic CANCELED
September 22, 2023
The pet microchip and vaccine clinic for Cloquet and Carlton County that was scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23 has been canceled after the Northern Lakes Rescue founder was charged with fraud. Northern Lakes has partnered with the city and county in recent years to operate the microchip clinics. Carlton County coordinator Dennis Genereau said the city and county discovered the charges and plan to reschedule the clinic with another agency in the future.
According to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the complaints allege that Shannon Marie Steele and Russel Clair Steele, both of Pequot Lakes, filed fraudulent income tax returns for tax years 2017 through 2021 and failed to pay the correct amount of income tax in those years. The couple was charged in Crow Wing County with five felony counts of filing false or fraudulent income tax returns and five felony counts of failing to pay income tax.
The complaints state that Ms. Steele owned Northern Lakes Rescue, a dog rescue nonprofit organization, where she was the only one with access to the organization’s bank accounts and records. The complaints allege that each year Ms. Steele withdrew thousands of dollars from bank accounts associated with the nonprofit to use for personal expenses such as appliances, video games, airfare, groceries, and jet ski rentals. According to the complaints, the Steeles failed to include these withdrawals as income on their tax returns and avoided paying tax on more than $303,000 in taxable income.
If the Steeles are found guilty, each tax-related felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue has a 24-hour tipline for anyone who suspects that a person or business is violating Minnesota tax laws. Local callers may dial 651-297-5195 or call toll-free by dialing 1-800-657-3500. Tips can also be submitted to the department by email at [email protected]. Tipsters may choose to remain anonymous.