The theft itself was not directly dog-related but registration forgeries and failure to
abide by co-ownership contracts certainly are.
Is AKC ignoring
her crime because it is opposed to co-ownerships and wants to send a
signal to the fancy? Perhaps AKC wants to just keep it quiet and
hope “another crooked judge” story will just go away? If the first
answer is correct, consider it done. If it is the second, well, we
hope AKC is suitably embarrassed by its failure to apply the rules
with fair and equal justice.
The indictment and court documentation on Sharon Helstein aka
/Sharon Korncavage was received from concerned judges who shall
The Helstein-AKC-co-ownership story unfolds is in
quotes from those who were directly or peripherally involved.
It started as an everyday dog deal ballooned out of control,
affecting the lives of many people and dogs. Sharon
Helstein-Korncavage, who raised dogs and worked with a professional
handler, decided to become co-owner on another AKC breed. But then
we’re told “She co-owned her first dog as well as one purchased from
a subsequent litter, a dog that remained in the Top Ten for two
years. Both dogs were from the same breeder who held co-ownership.
During this time Helstein applied for and became approved by the AKC
to judge Golden Retrievers and Samoyeds."
While the second dog was being campaigned, she (judge Sharon
Helstein of Johnson City, NY) was arrested for embezzlement. A
Civil Suit was filed and she was found liable for the theft of well
over $100,000 from her employer. A copy of the complaint in our
possession shows that much of the money was used for veterinary, dog
show, and other expenses incurred in showing and judging dogs.
As a means of restitution, the judge decreed that all of her
property was to be attached, including and specifically listing her
own dogs and any other show dog in which she had an interest. “It
was because of and during these proceedings that people became aware
that this judge had forged names on AKC registrations,
had added and removed names from registrations and had changed dates
This was brought to the attention of the AKC and an investigation
was commenced. It was determined that there were, in fact,
forgeries, date changes and other irregularities. One might think
that Sharon Helstein would have been, at the very least, sanctioned
by the AKC. But as an AKC judge, the AKC apparently took Helstein’s
word for each of the charges. We are told “The AKC concluded that
it was a “family dispute” and that as they were only a registry (and
did not recommend co-ownerships) nothing would be done."
“The AKC judge also called the co-owner/breeder of the “Top Ten”
Golden Retriever stating that she wished to have him neutered. The
breeder/co-owner said absolutely not and followed up with a
certified, registered letter forbidding the surgery. The letter was
received and signed for but approximately two weeks later this AKC
judge had the dog in question neutered. Nothing was done."
The AKC judge finally accept a plea deal in criminal court and is
now serving a term of not less than three years and not more than
nine. Says one observer, “On the day that Helstein was to be
sentenced and immediately transported to prison, many people were
extremely concerned about the well-being of Sharon Helstein’s dogs."
Unfortunately, it was almost two weeks before the disposition and
whereabouts of at least nine dogs was brought to light. Six of her
dogs had been placed in various homes and the court agreed to allow
someone to exercise and feed the remaining three dogs but the AKC
judge’s friend had turned them over to a stranger without even
asking her name or where she lived. It was finally discovered that
two of the aforementioned dogs and a 13 year old mixed breed had
been kept in crates in a basement for two weeks. It was further
sworn to that when the elderly mixed breed was rescued he was
covered in feces and unable to lift his head due to arthritic pain.
The dogs had been purchased/obtained with a signed contract stating
that if, at any time the purchaser was unable to care for them they
must be returned to the breeder. As an aside – the mixed breed is
being cared for and is doing well and the gentleman who was awarded
the dogs in the civil suit agreed to sell two dogs back to the
breeder-co-owner. Though they were not in good condition both have
improved with love and attention.
One source reported “The AKC was notified in September of 2010
regarding the disposition of the Civil Suit and the Criminal case
results. As of February 2011 the AKC judge remains on the judges
list as active and she is also on the official AKC website.”
Another said “Handlers, exhibitors, breeders, and judges are told by
the AKC that they should read and abide by the Code of
Sportsmanship. The Code Of Sportsmanship is so important that it
must be printed in every AKC show catalog."
Unanswered questions: “Does anyone know WHY the Code Of
Sportsmanship was so belatedly and hurriedly crafted? It is a great
guide but who is to live by this code, all, some, a few, or only
those the AKC determines need to be punished?"
Why hasn’t the AKC suspended Sharon Helstein aka Sharon Korncavage?
Did the Compliance Department ignore the case? Why didn’t AKC
follow up on this case? Will the American Kennel Club live by its
own Code of Sportsmanship?
July 2011 - AKC Board of Directors Suspension