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Alleged puppy mill operators indicted on racketeering, 35 other counts

The December term Lamar County grand jury indicted alleged Johnstonville puppy mill operators John David Matthews and Latitia Adelle Matthews on three counts of racketeering and issued true bills on 35 additional counts Monday, according to district attorney Jonathan Adams. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* True bills were issued on three violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, two counts of income tax evasion, three counts theft by taking, two counts making false statements, four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 24 counts cruelty to animals. In a case summary, Adams and special prosecutor Jessica Rock wrote the Matthews “operated Sweet Basil Farms to generate money, scam consumers, appropriate funds, falsify documents and evade taxes for which they were charged”. According to the 30-page indictment, Sweet Basil made at least $151,513.88 in 2017 and $71,101.65 in 2018 and paid no sales tax to the Georgia Department of Revenue. They worked from six bank accounts, five at United Bank and one at Wells Fargo. Prior to the investigation, John David Matthews had not filed an individual state tax return since 2005. Latitia Matthews had never filed a state return. The indictment alleges unsanitary conditions at the kennel and malicious neglect led to the death of a Great Pyrenees, two mixed breed dogs and disfigurement of a poodle which suffered from an embedded collar. For much more on this story, see the 12.17.19 print edition of The Herald Gazette.

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