Brandi Tomko, 35, of Akron, Ohio was sentenced to 18 months in prison March 15 after being found guilty on four felony charges and four misdemeanors after posing as a veterinarian at C&D Animal Hospital.
In a bench trial held before judge Paul J. Gallagher, Tomko was found guilty of identity fraud, two counts of theft, three counts of prohibitions concerning a companion animal, forgery and practicing without a license, says Michelle Manchester, bailiff for the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
Five pet owners affected by Tomko’s actions testified during the trial, along with Tomko, Manchester says.
Tomko was originally indicted on 39 charges, including 19 felony and 20 misdemeanor counts, after several people came forward and made complaints against her.
The first complaint came from pet owner Holly Devanich. According to her testimony in the complaint she filed with the Ohio veterinary board, Devanich took her dog, Teddy, to C&D Animal Hospital May 28, 2011, because he “had been having diarrhea all day and was not acting himself.” Tomko was the only person working at the hospital. Tomko treated the dog and prescribed medication. After the visit Devanich researched Tomko to find out if she was indeed a licensed veterinarian or technician, and when she found out Tomko was not licensed to practice, she asked for a refund.
Another pet owner, Kenny Reymann, took his dog, Charlie, to C&D April 7, 2011, according to his complaint to the Ohio board. Tomko led him to believe she was a veterinarian and asked Reymann to pay for a blood test, exam and urine specimen. Two days later, Tomko called Reymann and said the results of the test results were in. She told him Charlie was in renal failure and that he needed to be brought in for hospitalization or he would die.
“My dog was there for four days and was put on medicine and IV fluids,” Reymann wrote in his complaint. “Each day I went in to see my dog, he looked worse and worse. Brandi assured me that he was getting better each day, but he quit eating and ended up not eating for five days straight.”
Tomko released the dog on April 12. Reymann missed a call from Tomko that night saying she’d received the blood test results and was treating Charlie with the wrong medication. When Reymann woke up the next morning, he found Charlie dead on his living room floor.
The final complaint to the Ohio veterinary board came from Tim Harland, a senior humane officer at the Humane Society of Greater Akron. Harland says he received complaints at the humane society about Tomko performing surgery without a license (with at least one animal dying), taking blood without sending the sample to a lab but telling owners the results were negative, keeping expired medication in the office and not being present at the hospital when owners arrived to pick up their pets after a surgical procedure.
One of the complaints Harland sent to the veterinary board stated, “A report was received from a local animal rescue who took in two cats that had been spayed at C&D Animal Hospital. The incision sites were twice as long as needed and infected. The operations did not appear to be performed by a veterinarian.”