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AJ Woman Charged with Felony Fraud in Pet Breeding Ring

Theresa Carole Cook

Police have arrested an Apache Junction woman on felony fraud in a possible pet breeding ring and are asking for the public’s help in possibly leading to additional charges.

The Apache Junction Police Department on Wednesday arrested Theresa Carole Cook, 62, of Apache Junction, on three felony counts of forgery, two felony counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices and one felony count of tampering with a public record.

The cases follow instances in which puppies died under suspicious circumstances. Cook also is believed to have used a number of aliases in her transactions.

Since October 2016, Apache Junction police have been investigating allegations against a “backyard breeder” identified as Cook, who also went under the name of Theresa Wirth. That investigation began after police received a telephone call from a Mesa resident regarding the purchase of a puppy that died under suspicious circumstances.

In the following months, the Police Department’s Animal Control division investigated and uncovered two additional instances of transactions involving Cook in which three puppies died under suspicious circumstances. Police were subsequently alerted to a potential fourth victim, which involved the passing of fraudulent documents, including an official state of Arizona document.

Detectives investigated allegations of potential forgery, fraud and tampering with a public record, which led to a search warrant being executed on Wednesday in the 100 block of North Hilton Road. Investigations revealed that Cook has been breeding various breeds of dogs for the past 30 years. She was arrested and transported to the Pinal County Jail and was awaiting arraignment.

If you have any information regarding dealings with Cook or any of the following aliases she has used in the past [Theresa Kuykendall, Theresa Coffey, Theresa Hatcher, Theresa Kowalk, Theresa Morely, Theresa Lanpher, Theresa Windley, Juanita Morely or Tiffany Holguin], please contact Apache Junction Police at (480) 982-8260.

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