An arrest warrant was issued for former Broc’s Puppies operator Dennis Lee Franks when he failed to show for his preliminary hearing Tuesday in El Dorado County Superior Court.
Visiting Judge Jerald Lasarow set Franks’ bail at $110,000 after issuing the arrest warrant.
In courtroom discussions between the judge and prosecution and defense lawyers, it was disclosed that Franks called the public defenders’ office shortly before the preliminary hearing’s scheduled start to say he could not attend because he had vertigo and was ill. He has driven up from Las Vegas for past hearings.
Franks faces two dozen felony charges and a string of misdemeanor charges in connection with the pet shop. Authorities have alleged animal abuse, theft and forgery and that Franks knowingly sold animals that were sick or injured and not properly cared for, according to past media reports.
The criminal complaint against Franks has been amended four times, the last time in September 2011.
“If I had a felony case against me in Las Vegas, I think I would leave a day or two early to make sure I got there,” Lasarow said of Franks’ absence. “It seems to me he should have been here yesterday.”
Charged in 2010, Franks, has remained free on his own recognizance. Four years later, Franks has yet to face a preliminary hearing as his case has bounced around in the court system.
El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Cristy Lorente told Judge Lasarow that her office is prepared to move forward.
“The people are here and prepared to go forward. We have witnesses here, you are here assigned to this full-day preliminary hearing,” Lorente told the judge. “Reality is, he is not here, the case is old and the people are anxious to move forward with it.”
Public defender Bridget Matos argued Franks has maintained contact with the court. She also noted her office has agreed to a string of continuances requested by the district attorney’s office over the last two years as the case changed hands among prosecutors.