HSUS and Co-Defendants Pay $15.75 Million in Racketeering Lawsuit

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) shows TV commercials of abandoned and abused cats and dogs, raising money off of the confusion that it’s a pet shelter umbrella group. (It doesn’t run a single pet shelter anywhere.) Maybe its commercials should instead show HSUS’s lawyers paying a racketeering settlement with their tails tucked between their legs.

This morning news broke that HSUS and its co-defendants, including two HSUS employees, have agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a long-fought lawsuit filed against them under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act—a law that’s been used to go after the mob.

The suit stems from litigation that animal rights activists, including an HSUS affiliate, pursued against the owner of the Ringling Bros. circus, Feld Entertainment. In that case, activists claimed that the circus was unlawfully harming elephants in its care, and their key witness was a former Feld handler.

However, as that case unfolded over a decade, a payment scheme was discovered going from plaintiffs and their lawyers to this witness. The court eventually threw out the lawsuit, finding that the witness was a “paid plaintiff” who was “not credible.” This paid witness even “lied” to the court.

Feld then filed suit under RICO, alleging bribery, illegal witness payments, and other torts. The ASPCA settled in late 2012 for $9.3 million. And today, the other co-defendants have paid $15.75 million.

The animal liberation movement has long been associated with extremist, bullying, and sometimes even terroristic tactics in pursuit of its radical goal to institute prohibition on how we use animals, whether for food, fiber, or entertainment. The FBI cracked down on the terroristic fringe over the past two decades. And the suit-wearing, lawyered-up part of the movement has now had its day in court. It comes up $15.75 million poorer, but with its inner workings exposed, the rest of society should feel better off.

Sadly, the real losers in this case are the thousands of individual donors who gave money to HSUS thinking that they were helping local animal shelters, only to find that their donations are footing the bill for HSUS’s mismanagement.

Posted on 05/15/2014 at 10:45 am by Humane Watch Team.

Topics: Main


  • Karla Dimick

    It is about time! Now if our elected officials pockets were not so well padded by the Animal rights groups perhaps we could push Frank Losey’s IRS investigation into action and get the tax money they owe this country.

  • john goodwin aka arson king

    Crooks cashing in on funds thought to help dogs and cats this is another ponzi scheme

  • Elaine Summerhill

    Woo hoo! It’s about damn time!

  • chienblanc4csi

    Thank goodness, this was worth the wait. Now, when will the big media outlets post this . . . or are we asking too much.

  • DL Young

    This is so awesome ,it is about time for this crap to stop now where is Frank Losey to finish this ..

  • I’m just waiting for the next set of commercials begging for money…and how they will spin this.

  • Rottenrott

    why isn’t anyone going to jail?????????

    • Marcella Covault

      I’m sure the settlement included immunity from jail time.

    • Tater Salad

      This was a civil lawsuit. For jail time, criminal charges would have to be filed by Eric Holder’s Justice Department.

      • WORSEKarma

        …Which will never happen…

  • a80a

    The h s u s has always reminded me of a t v preacher begging money from sick and shut in old people to fill their pockets with money so they can drive fine cars live in million dollar homes fly multimillion dollar airplanes the h s u s has done the same thing with dog and cats preying on the heart strings of old people who has maybe one cat or dog as a companion and I hope they burst hell wide open for doing so.

  • Christopher Vegan-Murphy


  • Marcella Covault

    H$U$ has been having a bad year, haven’t they? What with the RICO lawsuit settlement, more charity rating downgrades, and exposure of cooking books with some of their “affiliates”. Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how they try to spin this. Maybe they will stop being so “politically correct” and become a pariah to the legislators.

  • heber Norckauer

    Let’s see amended tax returns showing less income than reported due to misreporting of Public Service Announcements as income, not shelters being operated, a bunch of lawyers being paid fight this suit and to promote problems for real animal lovers and owners and now settling for $15+M of a larger judgment along with their cohort in crime, the ASPCA acting similarly, what a setback for these crooks.

    • Dr. N

      I don’t know what went wrong with HSUS, but I DO know that ASPCA operates several veterinary clinics, around the country. In some areas, it’s the only one available, to fur parents. They DO take in emergencies, abuse and neglect cases, every day and night. In states where it’s permitted by law, they also have animal welfare agents, with the power to arrest. Make no mistake, they do this full time and make many arrests, daily. Lets not lump them in, please.

  • Jan Dykema

    NOT ENOUGH but so glad it happened.. HSUS says no “donor money” will be used.LOL so who will pay ?? Wayne?? the lawyers?? Bob Barker.. LOL.. it is a good day!

    • chienblanc4csi

      Feld was more gracious than they had any reason to be. I agree that it is a little disappointing, but for Feld and Co., it was never about the money, it was about vindication. They don’t need the money. They could have settled for much much more, I presume, but all they asked was the costs they incurred defending against the first suit. The amount of the ASPCA’s settlement added to this one, and the total is close to Feld’s legal costs of about $25 million. Could they have held out for more? I imagine so. I wouldn’t have been so magnanimous. This has been a tough year for animal rights extremists – PETA’s “slavery” claims against SeaWorld were tossed out, the ASPCA bailed out of this suit, and now the final blow. What we need next is for the IRS to get off their butts and investigate HSUS’s (c)3 and (c)4 status and get some back taxes and penalties . . .

      • dancingdelilah

        So Sea World doesn’t hold Whales in inhumane conditions? Did you not watch Blackfish on CNN? Even the trainers of these whales spoke up and out about the sad, depressing lives of these beautiful creatures!! They don’t deserve to live in the equivalent of a BATHTUB!
        Tho I do not agree with most of Peta’s tactics, they did not lie about Sea World and others like them enslaving Whales.

        • Chuck Hawkes

          yes they did the trainers they talked to even said they took things out of contacts so they could dramatize what happened if you don’t believe it look it up.

          • Cat


        • larry

          Blackfish was almost pure propaganda.

  • Sandy Pistolesi

    Wonderful !!! Long overdue!

  • Lois M. Butz

    Great. Now let’s get these sad commercial off TV!!!!!! The TV stations must know about this misuse of public sympathy, they wouldn’t allow the KKK to run advertisements. This has really hurt the real shelters. Now I only donate to my local shelter where I see my money at work. The terrible greed in my beautiful country will be its downfall and I am so sad for that. Remember during Katrina, millions were donated for the animals and none of it reached the pets??????? Serious consequences must be attached to these fines, their pictures published in national newspapers, TV stations, etc so everyone can see just who they are. If we all bombard the TV stations, maybe they will stop the TV ads. Thank you.

  • dy

    no, sorry– the real losers are the hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats that needed that money for the keep and care. shame on the lawyers for lining their pockets at the expense of the very thing that they claimed to want to protect and provide. shame shame shame… if you want to give $$$ for these creatures– give it to your local shelter.. and PLEASE. demand that all facilities become no kill. every day thousands of abandoned, old and lost pets are destroyed because there isn’t enough space or money to keep them… lay that on your heart and see what you can do to help. do it local, know who is getting it, where it is going and be a part of the rescue system!!!!!!

    • Chuck Hawkes

      not just the lawyers but the CEO also.

  • Clay Fitzgerald

    I always had the impression that deliberately illegal acts can’t be covered by insurance.
    The real losers aren’t the dupes that willingly gave money to such nefarious organizations as HSUS and PETA, the real losers are the American taxpayers; deprived of revenue because these types of groups are usually tax exempt 501(C) 3 organizations to which the donations are tax deductible.

  • This is tragic, not only for the animals but for the animal protection movement as a whole. Distinctions become blurred and the public becomes cynical. Overzealous advocates begin by cutting legal corners, progress to outright misconduct. None of this serves the animals. Only by playing by the legal rules will progress occur.

  • Dannielle Romeo

    follow all of the prior articles on the matter, it names all the players. and their ties to each other.
    Come on, Marilyn, try to keep up, not just with what’s convenient to YOUR agenda 🙂

  • muttleysgone

    A couple of years ago, we entered a pet supply shop in suburban D. C. There was a donation can for HSUS on the counter. When we told the lady running the shop that HSUS did nothing to help local animal shelters she didn’t believe us. The HSUS is well financed and has great public relations stuff out there. It is hard to fight them, but we have to keep trying.

  • Chuck Hawkes

    Actual they have one of the largest breeding facilities in the world and know alot about elephants compared to other organizations, I would also like to say that lying to the public to help animals when they don’t even own a shelter or help other shelters. I would lump you in with a terrorist trying to steal people’s rights to have pets and also for putting animals Endangered of extinction because of your own personal views.

  • HardDriver

    Kind of sad, really. I used to donate to the HSUS and PETA. I quit donating to PETA a couple of years ago after they were caught killing and throwing animals bodies in a dumpster, IIRC. Now I donate to Defenders of Wildlife, Alley Cat Allies, Jane Goodall and a few other animal rights organizations. I kind of had a feeling HSUS was bad after hearing a couple years ago that W. Pacelle and company had millions in bank accounts and were doing very little to help animals.

  • prinsdf

    I donate right to the shelter i take in food toys blankets towels i take the money & buy the stuff & bring it in directly to the d shelter

  • Nosy Nosy Nosy

    There seem to be two sides out there. The other side’s argument is apparently that HumaneWatch is mainly a front or spokesgroup for companies that use animals and would rather not be challenged as to how they do it. It looks to me as though the RICO suit was along the lines of a countersuit by Ringling Brothers against Fund for Animals, and using RICO was a legal characterization by a company with deeper pockets in order to recover their attorney fees, whatever the merits of the original case against them originally brought by Fund for Animals, which merged with the Humane Society, who therefore was stuck with the burden of the suit and decided to settle to avoid further costs and risks. While allegedly “Ringling has the largest and only sustainable herd of Asian elephants in the northern hemisphere”, and regardless of how they are actually treated, an animal lover may still ask whether highly intelligent animals like elephants should be pressed into service as traveling entertainers, and surmise that Animal Fund, which was not yet the same as Humane Society, might not have had good enough reason to file their original suit.

    Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/05/16/5155199/humane-society-to-pay-feld-ringling.html#storylink=cpy

  • Jill Neeld

    The ASPCA in this also? There must be more to this story.

  • Ben

    When does the criminal case get filed?

  • Kentucky red

    If an Animal Rights nut makes an accusation you better look long and hard before you believe it. I recommend researching Animal Rights vs Animal welfare!

  • Cameron Edward Buchanan

    Peta and HSUS MUST BE STOP