December 19, 2014

Elyria
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29°F
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Former animal shelter worker accused of forgery

Crystal Luli

Crystal Luli

ELYRIA — A Lorain woman who formerly operated a Sheffield Township animal shelter has been indicted on forgery charges.

A county grand jury returned an indictment against Crystal Luli, 39, who managed Ohio Pet Placement on North Ridge Road.

Luli is accused of using the personal information of Dr. Cathryne Wittlinger, an area veterinarian who worked at the shelter, to purchase medical supplies for animals being cared for at the nonprofit facility. The facility was closed in the spring of 2013 after 34 dogs, 16 cats and other animals were removed over complaints that the facility had no running water, electricity, trash pickup or gas service.

According to County Prosecutor Dennis Will, Luli is alleged to have opened a line of credit for a pharmaceutical company that services animals in Wittlinger’s name without her permission.

“When the doctor learned about this, she began backtracking to see how the account was set up,” Will said.

Wittlinger began receiving bills from the company, he said. She then resigned from the Ohio Pet Placement Foundation.

The amount of time between Luli being charged in March 2013 with forgery and theft by Lorain County sheriff’s deputies “took quite awhile because we were trying to verify whether there was actual intent to defraud,” Will said. “We were able to finally determine that Ms. Luli was not doing this with the doctor’s permission as part of a joint effort.”

At the time of her arrest, Luli told authorities she believed she had permission to apply for credit to buy animal medication by signing Wittlinger’s name.

Ohio Pet Placement Foundation began in 2005 as a nonprofit venture offering care to animals awaiting adoption.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.