Police: Two accused of abandoning dogs in Ephratah; Woman charged also faces construction scam allegations

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Harvey L. Martz II and Laurie S. Murray, along with photos of the dogs seized – Credit: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

Updated 4:23 p.m.

EPHRATAH Two former Ephratah residents have been arrested, accused of abandoning 10 dogs, along with goats and cats on a Ephratah property, leaving them with matted fur and covered in feces, Fulton County Sheriff’s officials said.

Meanwhile, the woman charged, whom Amsterdam police identified as the owner of a company called “Mohawk Valley Builders,” also faces accusations she scammed residents in Mayfield and Amsterdam, taking money for construction work she never started, then never refunding the money, Amsterdam police said.

In the animal case, Harvey L. Martz II, 47, and Laurie S. Murray, 52, were each charged with 10 counts of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals – failure to provide proper sustenance, Fulton County Sheriff’s officials said. Martz’ current residence was not listed, but Amsterdam police listed Murray as from St. Johnsville.

Investigators searched the property in Ephratah with a warrant Saturday and seized 10 Shih Tzu dogs, three goats and found an estimated two dozen cats on the premises, officials said. The cats were unable to be immediately retrieved and officials were expected to go back later.

The dogs had been left in a small room in a camper since the couple left last year, officials allege. Interviews of acquaintances indicate the pair had not lived there since June 2021, sheriff’s officials said.

All the dogs were suffering from matted hair and covered in feces, officials said. Two deceased goats were also found there.

Investigators took Martz and Murray into custody in Herkimer at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“Sheriff (Richard) Giardino would like to recognize all of the Sheriff’s Investigators and Road Patrol members who worked tirelessly on this case,” a release read. “Members of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office worked around the clock for three days in order to see the case closed and arrests made.”

The sheriff also credited Herkimer police, Blue Line Farm/Got Your Six Goats, Glove City Veterinary Hospital, The Brennan Humane Society and members of the Fulton County Regional SPCA.

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The sheriff also released mug shots of the pair, noting their usual policy on misdemeanors is not to. In this case, however, “the Sheriff wants to ensure that while this case is pending no one gives or sells animals to these individuals without knowledge of these circumstances,” the release read.

In the construction case, Murray has been charged with theft related to a client in Amsterdam, accused of taking money and not performing any work, Amsterdam police said Tuesday.

Laurie S. Murray, 52, of St. Johnsville, owner of Mohawk Valley Builders, was arrested Monday and charged with one count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony, and misdemeanor scheme to defraud, police said.

Police in Amsterdam took Murray into custody after investigators in Fulton County arrested her on similar theft allegations in a Mayfield case, Amsterdam police said.

In the Mayfield case, Murray is accused of taking money from the homeowner and not performing any work, then not returning the money, Amsterdam police said. Further information on the Mayfield case was not immediately available Tuesday.

Then in Amsterdam, a resident recently filed a similar complaint where they paid money for Murray to perform construction work in August 2021, but as of May 2022, no work had been performed, police said. The contract was then cancelled and no money was refunded. 

Murray was taken to the Amsterdam Police Department, where she was interviewed by detectives and “she made admissions of guilt detailing a pattern of malfeasance in her business dealings,” police said in a release.

Police indicated they wanted to make residents aware of the allegations against Mohawk Valley Builders and asked that anyone who feels they may be a victim of fraud to contact police at 518-842-1100.

Murray and Martz were released in the dog case to appear in court later. Murray was arraigned in the Amsterdam larceny case and released to return later.

The sheriff also highlighted the address of the SPCA for anyone wanting to donate to the animals’ care and fostering. Donations can be sent to Fulton County Regional SPCA, PO BOX 1274, Gloversville, NY 12078

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By Steven Cook

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