JEFFERSON (WKOW) -- An Oconomowoc man who filed a lawsuit to try recover a dog has been charged with felony theft, with authorities maintaining he stole the animal from its rightful owners and kept it for four years.
24-year old Justin Stanford is scheduled to make an initial appearance on the charge next month.
In July, Stanford told 27 News he found the older Blue Merel Collier/Healer mix named "Spur" in 2010 on Jefferson County land where he rented horses. Stanford told 27 News the dog appeared to be in ill health with visible wounds. Stanford said he used Spur's dog tag to contact the animal's owner Tina Marshall of Helenville almost immediately, and told 27 News Marshall became defensive over assessment of Spur's health, and told him he could take the dog. Stanford denied to 27 News stealing the dog.
But according to the criminal complaint against Stanford, authorities say he kept Spur for six weeks and obtained veterinary care for the dog before Stanford said he called Marshall's husband, who Stanford said rejected his offer to return Spur.
The complaint states Tina Marshall told authorities she never gave anyone permission to take her dog. Last month, Marshall told 27 News she and friends searched for Spur after he went missing, and she contacted the Jefferson County Humane Society in the event the dog was brought in. Stanford told 27 News his phone records support his claim of calling Tina Marshall in 2010.
Stanford and his attorney, Charles Glynn, have yet to return calls from 27 News seeking comment on the felony charge. Assistant Jefferson County District Attorney Theresa Beck, who signed the complaint against Stanford, and District Attorney Susan Happ, have both declined comment on the case.
Authorities seized Spur from Stanford earlier this year.
Stanford's lawsuit to recover Spur, or be compensated for the cost of four years of care, has involved depositions and remains pending.