By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
There are crimes where a defendant’s depraved actions almost beg for a strong sentence. Torching a pet store and pouring kerosene on puppies certainly qualifies.
Just over a year ago we reported the case of Gloria Eun Hye Lee who, along with codefendant Kirk Bills were accused of conspiracy, insurance fraud, arson, and animal cruelty for an outrageous event where the two set fire to Gloria’s Las Vegas Prince and Princess Pet Botique.
Court records describe how Kirk and Gloria entered the pet store and while being video taped by a surveillance camera acted to set alight the property with Kirk going so far as showering the puppies with an accelerant and later starting the fire. Fortunately the sprinkler system knocked down the flames before the dogs and puppies were injured. Firefighters who quickly arrived on-scene rescued the animals inside.
After Gloria’s arrest a judge at her bail hearing increased bail from $40,000 to $310,000. Gloria has prior convictions for other felonies in California: for escape; larceny from a bank; and forgery. Prosecutor Shanon Clowers has noted that Gloria was born in Korea and was a flight risk considering her ties to that country and California.
According to a Las Vegas Review Journal article, Gloria also had a prior run-in with Clark County animal control officers in 2008. She was charged with 37 counts for violating county ordinances in caring for the animals in her pet shop, including failure to vaccinate the animals and improper confinement of the animals. The case was later dismissed after Lee corrected the violations.
Kirk managed to travel to Crown Point Indiana where an FBI task force took him into custody.
Animal rights supporters picketed the courthouse during nearly each of Gloria’s court appearances and there were numerous calls for a long sentence.
The two dogs were given to an animal rescue organization and the remaining puppies were auctioned off for two hundred fifty dollars each in a charity fundraiser for a local animal shelter. A custody battle involving Gloria and the dogs lasted several weeks prior.
Originally Gloria was charged with twenty seven animal cruelty charges in addition to conspiracy, arson, and insurance fraud. In October of 2014 she pleaded guilty to these charges, save only one count of criminal attempt of animal cruelty, as a result of a plea bargain. The remaining previous charges were dropped.
During her sentencing hearing, Gloria attempted to make a case for introducing a courtroom declaration that she was three months pregnant. Prosecutor Clowers accused her of making a manipulative bid for a “get-out-of-jail-free card” by announcing her pregnancy.
Clark County District Court Judge David Barker was not impressed and stated that he believed Gloria to be using her pregnancy to eek out a lesser sentence. He then handed down a sentence of five to fourteen years in prison–nearly the maximum of what the prosecutor asked.
Kirk pleaded guilty to arson and criminal attempt of animal cruelty.
Now, it seems Gloria will discover what it is like to be on the other side of the cage.
By Darren Smith
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