ST. CHARLES – The attorney for a petting zoo owner accused of animal cruelty on Thursday asked a judge to issue subpoenas on the Kane County state's attorney, as well as the Health and Human Resources departments, seeking all reports and investigation documents on Robert Sauceda, the county's former Animal Control interim director.
Sauceda resigned May 7 amid an ongoing personnel investigation. County officials did not provide specifics regarding his resignation. Animal Control is part of the Kane County Health Department.
In March, Sauceda handled the removal of some 94 sick and starved animals from the Mini Zoo Crew, a petting zoo owned by Stacy Fiebelkorn of Elgin, most of which were kept on a rented farm in Hampshire.
Fiebelkorn was charged March 5 with cruelty to animals and a violation of an animal owner’s duty to provide food and care, both misdemeanors. In court papers, Fiebelkorn's attorney Jamie Wombacher states Sauceda was placed on paid administrative leave on or about May 1 before resigning, and that he led and conducted the investigation into Fiebelkorn and the animals.
"The details of the investigation into Mr. Sauceda's suspension and subsequent resignation could prove vital to the instant matter as they could impact Mr. Sauceda's credibility, bias his ability to conduct a proper investigation of the defendant or other issues," Wombacher is asserting, according to court papers.
The issue is set for a hearing on July 2.
Wombacher did not return a message seeking comment. The state's attorney's office does not comment on pending cases.
Kane County Health Department Executive Director Barb Jeffers and Human Resources Executive Director Sheila McCraven did not return voicemail messages seeking comment about possibly being subpoenaed.
Sauceda, a South Elgin trustee, ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Mike Kenyon, R-South Elgin, for a seat on the county board in the March 2012 primary.
A political ally of Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen in his 2012 bid for the chairmanship, Sauceda was hired in late January 2013 as a temporary billing manager in the Kane County Animal Control Department for $52,000 a year.
At Lauzen's recommendation, the county board appointed Sauceda as the interim administrator in November at a salary of $65,000 a year, with the proviso that he would have 12 months to prove himself. Lauzen said at the time he was confident Sauceda would continue to show great performance and leadership.
A day after Sauceda's resignation, the county posted the animal control position on its website. The listed salary range is $65,000 to $70,000 for 40-plus hours a week. The application deadline is May 23.
Lauzen said someone from Jeffers' staff is filling in as animal control director until a new director is hired.