NASH COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Red Oak woman is convicted of selling sick puppies to unsuspecting viewers.
Julie Crumpler Peele pleaded guilty to 6 counts of obtaining property under false pretenses in a Nash County courtroom. According to court records, Peele was sentenced to 6-17 months in jail, but it's a suspended sentence so she will not serve any jail time as long as she stays out of trouble. She was also ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution.
These charges stem from several Troubleshooter investigations into Peele.
It was October of 2014, when the Powers Family contacted me. Libby Powers answered an online ad about a dog for sale and said she received a shot record from Peele that showed the dog was up to date on her vaccinations and other medication.
Libby and her family drove from Cary to Red Oak and paid $150 for the puppy they named Meadow. After they got Meadow home, her health quickly deteriorated and Libby said they had to put Meadow down.
In September of 2015, I heard from Larry McAvoy. McAvoy found his dog by responding to an online ad for a mix breed puppy for sale in Rocky Mount. He said he was told the pup was up to date with his shots, and was given a vaccine record. McAvoy drove to Red Oak and says he paid $200.00 for the pup he named Gizmo.
"On the way home, I noticed that the puppy just seemed really tired," McAvoy said. "What got my attention was it had a real loose stool, blackish stool."
McAvoy says he tried calling and emailing the woman but she never answered. By the end of the week, McAvoy took Gizmo to the vet after his health continued to deteriorate.
"They described the hook worms from going into the intestinal lining and once it becomes disengaged, it bleeds internally and that was the reason for the darkish colored stool," McAvoy explained. "We did our best to try to get fluids in him, but about 10 o'clock that same night, he passed away."
McAvoy said he was so upset he started doing research and saw my previous investigation from last October with the Powers family. After seeing Meadow's story online, and comparing it to his, Larry reached out to me.
"I just wanted to see if we can hopefully stop this from happening from any families in the future," he said.
McAvoy found another ad on the same website that he found Gizmo. He emailed back and forth with the puppy's owner and set up a time for his wife to meet the person selling the dog, once again in Red Oak. McAvoy's wife met Julie Peele in the same parking lot the Powers say they met Peele to buy Meadow.
As Peele handed the dog over to Larry's wife, I was there too. I asked Peele if she knew the puppies were sick.
"No, these puppies are not sick," Peele said. "They get shots from Tractor Supply and worming."
Peele denied doing anything wrong, and insisted the puppies she sells are not sick. I asked Peele if she felt bad for these puppies and the families she allegedly sold the pups too.
"This puppy is fine," she said. "Look, it doesn't look sick as all. It's had what it's supposed to have at his age so I'm not doing anything illegal, anything wrong."
After I confronted Peele, she was charged by the Nash County Sheriff's Department with obtaining property under false pretenses.
After those charges, I heard from more than a half a dozen viewers who say they also were victims to Peele, including Paige McKeithan.
"I spent over $2,000 on bills and everything trying to get him healthy and just nothing was working," McKeithan said.
McKeithan bought Gunner from Peele, the vet diagnosed Gunner with what she believed to be parvo. Despite trying everything, the vet ultimately suggested it was best to end the dog's life.
After the Nash County Sheriff's Department heard from more victims, Peele was charged with more felonies.
I was at the Nash County Court House as Peele faced a judge again, but she had nothing to say.
Originally in court, Peele claimed she was not guilty, but that all changed during Peele's latest court appearance. In court, Peele pleaded guilty to 6 counts of obtaining property under false tenses. Families who bought the sick puppies from Peele say the guilty conviction brings them closure.
If you're looking for a new pet, local shelters like the Wake County Animal Center and the SPCA of Wake County are packed right now with animals who need a good home, and it won't cost you hundreds of dollars.
Here's some more tips if you're looking to buy a dog online.
1. Examine the pictures of the puppy very closely to make sure they are original. You can search images on Google to see if the photo comes up anywhere else on the Internet. If it does, chances are they stole the photo and are using it to scam people.
2. Request additional pictures of the puppy. If the seller actually owns the puppy, they should be able to send you multiple pictures from different angles as well as pictures of the puppy at a younger age.
3. Never wire money to a seller. Scammers use this method so they cannot be traced once the money is received. Scammers also use pre-paid debit cards.
4. Google the name and email address of the seller. If they are scamming you, chances are they have scammed someone else.
5. If the deal is too good to be true, it normally is. Certain breeds of dogs are extremely expensive and it is unlikely they would be sold for little to no cost. Do your research