Rusty Surette, News 9
WYNNEWOOD, Oklahoma -- The Garvin County Sheriff's Office confirmed investigators are looking into possible computer crimes by an alleged "planted" employee inside the G.W. Exotic Animal Park.
Joe Schreibvogel, director of the G.W. Exotic Animal Park, said the crimes were committed by a member of the animals rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, who was planted inside the facility and posed as a staff member.
"During our investigation, we found the camera that was purchased for him by PETA to do this job," Schreibvogel said. "And we found that he had created a diversion to get access to the director's computer and download his hard drive without his knowledge."
A spokesman for the Garvin County Sheriff's Office said a police report has been filed and investigators are looking into a possible computer crime committed at the facility, although no arrest has been made. The case may be turned over to the Garvin County District Attorney.
"PETA has, in the past, cost us millions by sending in undercover spies and lying to the press and on the Internet to discredit our name and exploit us for money" Schreibvogel said. "Paying a spy and downloading your hard drive is criminal."
PETA spokesperson Jane Dollinger said in a statement that they believe G.W. Exotic Animal Park has been mistreating animals.
"G.W. Exotic Animal Park is a notorious pseudo-sanctuary that makes its money from continually breeding animals and tearing the baby animals away from their mothers, dragging them to malls and events for photo ops with the public, then discarding or warehousing them when they reach maturity. In an undercover investigation some years ago, PETA found dead, dying, and injured animals; extremely crowded conditions; a serious lack of basic necessities such as food, water, and veterinary care; shamefully inadequate housing; and untrained and insufficient staff who were intentionally cruel to animals. G.W. Exotic has been furious about PETA's findings, all of which were obtained legally."
Schreibvogel said the former employee, Samuel Crowell, is a 25-year old who first came to the refuge nearly four years ago as a volunteer. Schreibvogel said Crowell's girlfriend is the one who tipped park employees off to the alleged scheme by PETA. The organization allegedly was paying Crowell $50 per day for his work.