The Mason case continues to raise eyebrows in many ways.
It turns out that Don Cocek (DCOCEK@ATTY.LACITY.ORG), the Deputy City Attorney handling the Mason case is also on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles SPCA. In itself this appears to be a conflict of interest.
Doing even a brief google of “Los Angeles SPCA, Bernstein and Cocek” reveals one case where an “animal abuser” who plead guilty was required to pay “restitution” money to the SPCALA. And Cocek is on the Board of Directors? Isn’t this a conflict of interest?
Even more, taking words right out of Boks’ mouth, terms of probation which Boks mentioned in his Mason post, required community service and counseling. Now who does the counseling here, another SPCA/City sponsored, system-wide mental health unit?
From the SPCALA site:
Van Nuys – April 27, 2005 – A Tujunga pet shop owner accused of not providing proper medical care and not having proper veterinary records pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of violation of Penal Code 597 (b) animal cruelty in Van Nuys Court yesterday.
Souren Minasyan received 36 months probation, 200 hours community service and must pay $1,326 restitution to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). In addition, Minasyan must undergo mandatory counseling.
In December 2004, spcaLA Humane Officers received a tip from the cruelty tipline. SPCALA Cruelty Investigators turned the case over to Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Don Cocek and charges were filed.
“This owner of this pet shop was charged and convicted thanks to a tip from the public,” said spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein.
Also from the SPCALA website we find that Cocek and Bernstein are teaching classes together to train people wanting to begin careers in animal control or update their resumes. Naturally, there is a fee for this course, and since Mr. Cocek handles all animal cruelty cases, I guess he’d know how to do pre and post seizures.
Below is the listing of seminar topics taught by Bernstein and Cocek at a February 2006 seminar for “Animal Control and Humane Law Enforcement” in Pasadena. Maybe Bernstein can teach Boks how to survive this scandal in the media. Below that is a class Bernstein and Cocek taught together.
SERVICES: Surviving Scandals and Crises in the Media (Madeline Bernstein, President, spcaLA; Dawn Cotterell, Director of Communications and Marketing, spcaLA; and James Lee, President, The Lee Strategy Group) MANAGEMENT & FIELD SERVICES (Joint Session): Administrative Law and Its Application to PC 597.1 Hearings (Madeline Bernstein, President, spcaLA and Donald Cocek, Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office)
Interesting also is that Cocek appeared to be discrediting the BHLE who also provides training to the humane community on law enforcement.
Personally, I have a high regard for the SPCALA, especially in their dealings with people in the rescue community whom I know. Others give me a completely different take, such as an excessive use of force. I just find delineating all the various animal-related law enforcement connections to be quite interesting.