Montgomery County Animal Shelter Director Aaron Johnson and Assistant Director Mark Wysocki have been reinstated effective immediately following a criminal investigation that found no wrongdoing, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack announced in a release Oct. 17.
The two employees were previously placed on paid leave Sept. 18 after a criminal investigation was launched to investigate claims that MCAS had euthanized 78 animals outside of shelter procedures. During the interim period, Noack served as oversight for the shelter.
“As part of their investigation, the Grand Jury reviewed every recent allegation of criminal conduct against the shelter employees,” Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said in a statement. “They found no criminal liability.”
According to the release, the criminal investigation was conducted by the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Office, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and Drug Enforcement Agency.
“Many of these types of allegations find their way into the criminal justice process because there is no independent office of inspector general that can make a preliminary determination into county employee behavior and help determine whether alleged conduct would ultimately be a criminal matter, administrative matter, or merely an in-house disciplinary matter,” Ligon said. “Without this intermediate process, there is often heightened attention and scrutiny into these investigations, which may, in hindsight, be unwarranted.”
While Ligon said he is confident the criminal investigation was thorough and exhaustive, Noack said in a statement that he is fully supportive of both Johnson’s and Wysocki’s returns to MCAS.
“Aaron and Mark have made great strides towards improving the Montgomery County Animal Shelter,” Noack said. “Their continued efforts will help find loving homes and reputable rescue organization for the more than 700 dogs and cats currently in the shelter. I am confident that their leadership, combined with the dedicated staff and volunteers, will ensure that all the animals are well taken care of while at the MCAS.”