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Animal care volunteer: Sauceda’s resignation won’t affect Fiebelkorn case

GENEVA – The resignation of interim Animal Control Administrator Robert Sauceda this week should not have any effect on the pending animal cruelty case against a petting zoo owner, an animal care volunteer said.

Elgin resident Stacy 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. 

The charges were in connection with a traveling petting zoo she owns, in which 11 animals and a horse fetus were found dead, and 94 were found in need of food, water and medical attention, officials said. 

In the ensuing court actions, Fiebelkorn gave up all of the animals.

The criminal case is scheduled to resume May 15. 

Sauceda, as the interim director, was prominent in organizing the rescue of remaining animals from a farm in Hampshire and their ultimate adoptions to new homes.

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s office said it would not comment on the pending case. Fiebelkorn attorney Jamie Wombacher did not return a voice mail message seeking comment. 

St. Charles resident Laura Van Der Snick, one of the volunteers who helped care for the rescued animals, said the case has “more than enough evidence” to continue.

“We’ll be OK. We have more than enough evidence, in my opinion,” Van Der Snick said. “It does not matter what Robert did or didn’t do. ... This should not shake the Fiebelkorn case at all. We have even more witnesses coming forward with information. This is an iron-clad case.”

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 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 that he was confident Sauceda would continue to show great performance and leadership.

Lauzen cited Sauceda’s accomplishments as billing manager, including improvements to the department’s finances, the introduction of social media and reminder phone calls to pet owners about registrations that are due.

“I am delighted to make this appointment,” Lauzen had said at the time. 

In the current situation involving Sauceda’s resignation, Lauzen would not comment beyond saying it was a personnel matter.

Sauceda ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Mike Kenyon, R-South Elgin, for a County Board seat in the Republican primary in March 2012.

Kenyon said he had mixed emotions about the situation. He said he ultimately voted for Sauceda’s appointment because it was better to go along with it.

“I think we have to do a better job of hiring, and we’re going to make mistakes no matter what we do,” Kenyon said. “I think it was sad we had several resumes, and his resume was approved.”

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