HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – The Florida Department of Agriculture is accusing a Hollywood man of selling sick bulldog puppies to more than a dozen people nationwide in a scheme that the state says netted the man more than $20,000.
Victor Chemerisov is locked up in the Broward County Jail on one count of organized scheme to defraud and 10 counts of creating a forged veterinary certificate showing the animals were healthy. He has a bond of $350,000.
Christine Ramelli, of New York, said she is one of Chemerisov’s victims. Ramelli said she purchased Hazel – an English bulldog from Chemerisov through his online business – www.lovablebulldogs.com – in August at a cost of $2,450. Ramelli said that as soon as Hazel arrived, the animal was sick with pneumonia.
“She was hospitalized two separate times for a total of 13-14 days so that’s how we get to $9,000 (in veterinarian bills),” she told CBS4’s Carey Codd.
Ramelli said Hazel has recovered, is still angry that she and others were duped by Chemerisov.
“He’s obviously a jerk and a bunch of words that you can’t use on television,” Ramelli said.
Ramelli sent CBS4 News a copy of the veterinary certificate that she received with Hazel, which she believed proved that Hazel was healthy. Instead, investigators said the document was a fake. According to investigators, they tried to trace the company that sold the puppies here in South Florida but they kept coming up with bogus addresses, including one non-existent address in Hollywood in the middle of a lake.
In 2004, WCBS in New York reported that Victor Chemerisov bilked 11 people out of more than $10,000 by taking money for puppies he never delivered and the station reported that Chemerisov was investigated for selling sick puppies to a bunch of the people.
Deawn Valenica in Texas said she fell in love with bulldog pup Mikey after seeing him for sale online on Chemerisov’s website. But Valencia said what she received, after paying more than $2,000, was a sick dog with pneumonia.
“I told my husband, ‘something’s wrong with him. He’s not ok,'” she said, remembering her first thought when Mikey arrived at their home.
Valencia said that Mikey spent 30 minutes in her house and the rest of his 7 days of life in an animal hospital before being dying from pneumonia. She said she and her family spent thousands on vet bills but are more upset that this animal suffered and never got to meet her excited kids.
“We had to explain to them Mikey did come home but he was sick and we explained to them that we had to take him to the doctor and make him better,” she said.
Valencia said she contacted Chemerisov for another dog or a refund but never got a response.
Most of the victims told investigators that they knew Chemerisov as either “Ray” or “Charles.” They also said that when they contacted him for a refund or another dog they found that communication largely stopped. The websites Chemerisov is accused of operating are no longer active.
Marcy Teague, of New Mexico, said she bought Duchess Noelle online from Chemerisov and the dog was sick from the beginning with a heart condition. Teague said she had to put Duchess Noelle down several months later after she began having seizures and other issues.
“She lost control of all body functions and suffered for about three and a half hours before we had to make the final decision,” Teague said. “I lost a member of my family. She was with me every day. She slept beside me every night. She was like velcro on my pant leg.”
Teague wants Chemerisov punished.
“There really are no words to describe what this person has done and how he’s affected so many families,” Teague said.
CBS4 News contacted several of the 13 victims and a few of them told CBS4 News they take some responsibility for what happened because they bought their dogs online without visiting the breeder and without doing as much homework as they should have.
Chemerisov is expected to go before a judge on Friday morning.
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