Weatherford Democrat

March 12, 2013

Reno council candidate disputes charges


Weatherford Democrat

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By CHRISTIN COYNE

Despite resigning from office and being arrested on a class A misdemeanor charge of forgery last May, Reno City Council candidate Carol Houlihan doesn’t believe the criminal charge is relevant to her pursuit to regain the council seat in May.

Allegations by law enforcement that she admitted to forging health certificates for around 50 dogs are also incorrect, according to Houlihan, who told the Democrat that only four dogs were involved and they were not sick, as was reported by a complainant.

Houlihan has filed to run against Eric Hunter, the man appointed to replace her on the council last year, for the Place 4 position in the May 11 municipal election.

Houlihan, who breeds and shows Portuguese Podengo Pequeno dogs, agreed to deferred adjudication, including nine months probation, over allegations she forged the signature of an Azle veterinarian on health certificates for the interstate sale of several dogs.

Houlihan, who was mayor pro tem at the time, reportedly approached Reno’s then police chief, Joe Polino, on March 15, 2012, and confessed to issuing falsified veterinarian health certificates for the sale of dogs over a period of several years, according to court records. 

Though Polino said Houlihan reported around 50 dogs were involved, according to court records, Houlihan denies that.

“The whole dog incident was because of some very mean and hateful people who I did a favor for,” Houlihan said. “And, basically, it was four dogs. Not fifty.

“There was never a sick dog involved, nothing,” Houlihan said. “That was all lies. But did I do something wrong? Yeah, I did. I did them a favor.”

“Yeah, it hurt my integrity but it doesn’t waver my feelings for Reno and what I want to do and continue to do,” Houlihan said, adding she believes she helped get the city on track financially after a previous council built a police department too big for the city to pay for.

The only reason she resigned was because she had the legal issue to take care of, Houlihan said. “I didn’t have to resign.”

Houlihan said she expects her deferred adjudication probationary period to be completed by the May 11 election. If successfully completed, deferred adjudication allows a defendant to avoid a conviction. 

“I won’t say what I really want to say about the people up in North Dakota, Michigan and Arizona,” Houlihan said. “They wanted to hurt me personally and financially because they actually swindled me out of some dogs and I posted on the Internet what they did.”

“They had a little tidbit of information and they used it,” Houlihan added.

Houlihan said she has not spoken with the veterinarian whose signature she allegedly forged.

“I’m embarrassed about it,” Houlihan said. “I feel really bad that he was dragged into it.”

Asked why residents should trust her enough to vote for her again, Houlihan said she has done right by Reno.

“This thing has nothing to do with the City of Reno and what I stand by on the City of Reno,” Houlihan said. “I stand by keeping the financials straight. Making sure everything, the money, is budgeted right. That projects are done. That we get our grants. That we, you know, do the things the city is supposed to do.”

Eric Hunter, Houlihan’s opponent who was appointed to the position several months after her resignation, said he does not feel it’s appropriate for Houlihan to be running for the position while on probation for the same reason she resigned.

“I don’t feel that’s appropriate if you really have the best interests for the citizens at heart,” Hunter said.

Shortly after her resignation, he was asked to file for the position, Hunter said.

Reno residents need someone they can depend on to be there, not someone who may be in and out of office, Hunter said.

When he spoke with Houlihan, “I got the sense she was deflecting responsibility on other people,” Hunter said, adding that those serving on the council need to take responsibility for their actions.