Ginger Turk from onceuponateapup.com
FOLSOM, CA - An El Dorado Hills broker has been charged with forging a veterinarian's signature on health certificates for exotic puppies she sold nationwide for thousands of dollars.
Ginger Turk, 41, faces seven felony counts relating to four phony documents she produced for customers paying $4,000 or more for miniature "teacup" puppies.
Read the complaint and police report
The USDA certificates are required to import puppies from South Korea and were purportedly signed by Dr. Lee Kaplow, owner of Lakeside Pet Hospital in Folsom.
Related story: Folsom police seek forgery charges for puppy broker
Turk, doing business as Once Upon A Teapup, began bringing imported puppies to Kaplow to be examined last February.
Kaplow became aware of the forgery last August when Barbara Azurak of Toms River, NJ called to ask him medical questions about a teacup puppy she bought from Turk.
The health certificate bore Kaplow's signature even though he had never seen the puppy.
"I was shocked," Azurak said. "You just don't do that. You don't forge people's signatures and make up health records."
Azurak said she paid $4,000 for her puppy named Sophie, plus an additional $900 to fly to Sacramento to pick her up.
Azurak also claims Sophie is not the puppy she paid for, but said she chose not to make a scene at the airport.
In a telephone conversation with News10, Turk disputed Azurak's claim of puppy-switching, but did not deny the forgery charges.
Turk said pressure from customers led her to cut corners to save time.
"This really got blown out of proportion," Turk said. "I'm not a bad person. I love animals."
The additional forgery charges stem from USDA certificates purportedly signed by Kaplow for puppies sold by Turk to customers in Wisconsin, Texas and Louisiana.
Meg Derrick of Hudson, WI said a puppy named Eve she bought from Turk in June for $4,900 came with a phony health certificate and died within a few days of arrival.
Derrick said she is suing Turk for $8,500 to cover the cost of the puppy, medical expenses and airfare from Wisconsin.
The Sacramento County District Attorney's office has sought an arrest warrant for Turk, but a Folsom police spokesman said Turk would likely receive a letter allowing her to surrender.
Kaplow said he has spent months pursuing charges against Turk and was concerned about the potential impact of the forgeries to his reputation.
"It's been a long, crazy process," Kaplow said. "And so I couldn't be happier. I feel like things are a little more right in the world."
By George Warren, GWarren@news10.net