Former Soaring Paws CEO Faces New Felony Fraud Charges

Albert Adams, who in 2018 pled guilty to using donations to his abused animal charity for personal expenses, faces a new round of felony fraud charges. The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office in Florida has charged him with six third-degree felony counts of pet insurance fraud, according to a statement from the Office of the State Attorney, 13th Judicial Circuit, Florida.

Adams was arrested and held without bail on January 27, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

According to the new charges, Adams purchased pet insurance from the Healthy Paws insurance provider. Between March 4 and April 8, 2020, he filed claims that netted him nearly $13,000 in reimbursement for medical procedures for two dogs that allegedly were not performed. The insurance provider’s investigators discovered Adams’ alleged fraud and contacted law enforcement, according to the State Attorney’s office.

Adams has been charged with one count of Organized Fraud Less Than $20,000 and five counts of False Statement in Support of an Insurance Claim Less Than $20,000. He is also facing additional penalties for violating his ten-year probation sentence, which stemmed from his previous activities.

“People who support animals have big hearts, and when you scam them, we prosecutors have long memories,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in the statement. “Fraud against pet donors, and now fraud against pet insurers. If you refuse to learn your lesson and come up with an honest way to make a living, we’re going to hold you accountable.”

In 2018, Adams pled guilty to five felony counts in Hillsborough Circuit Court. The charges stemmed from his work as CEO of the nonprofit Soaring Paws, which provided airplane transport for abused dogs. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Adams allegedly misrepresented how donations would be used, and did not spend all of the $142,000 his charity collected as he had promised.

On a GuideStar by Candid profile page for the since-closed Soaring Paws, a “Notes from the nonprofit” section claims “Soaring Paws is 100% a TRUE Nonprofit. No one at Soaring Paws is paid a single penny. All of our fundraising efforts go directly into the expenses of flying rescued animals to forever homes.”

While Adams did rent planes and fly rescue dogs, his activity level did not cover the amount of money he collected. According to the Tampa Bay Times, a bank account set up for Soaring Paws showed payments for alcohol, fast food, flowers, furniture, haircuts, spas, veterinary bills and yard work. The account also showed $10,000 in Amazon payments and $24,000 transferred to a Capital One account.

By pleading guilty in 2018, Adams had two charges against him stemming from registration and record keeping dropped. He was sentenced to a ten-year probation period and 50 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay costs and fines of almost $21,000, including one $9,000 contribution apiece to the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, according to the Tampa Bay Times.