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Why has AKC failed to suspend a judge convicted of embezzling over $349,911, forging registrations, and cruelly violating co-ownership contracts?


June 2011 | TheDogPress

Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-In-Chief


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 remain anonymous. 

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 of transfers."


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 #116133




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