UPDATE: Former animal shelter director back in Memphis

Ernest Alexander (Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Department)
Ernest Alexander (Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Department)
  • Update:  Ernest Alexander refuses to comment after posting bond.

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The former director of the Memphis Animal Shelter is back in Memphis. Ernest Alexander, who was released from a jail in New Mexico on Wednesday, arrived in Memphis early Thursday afternoon.

Upon his arrival, Alexander was booked at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center. His bond was set at $25,000.

Alexander is charged with six counts of aggravated animal cruelty related to the mistreatment of animals at the Memphis Animal Shelter.

If convicted, Alexander faces a maximum punishment of two years in prison.

Ten hours after arriving at the Shelby County Jail, an angry Alexander made a speedy exit after posting a $25,000 bond.

"No comment," Alexander said.  "No comment whatsoever."

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office Fugitive Bureau tracked Alexander to New Mexico after he was indicted earlier this month.

Alexander did not resist arrest and said he was aware that authorities were looking for him.

The treatment of animals was among the many problems investigators uncovered during a June 2009 audit of the shelter. Auditors found Memphis Animal Services had gaping loopholes in how cash transactions were managed, and there was no formal policy for safeguarding and accountability for pharmaceuticals.

Shelby County sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant on October 27, 2009 as part of an investigation into alleged animal cruelty at the shelter.

The search warrant in the case included photos of a puppy that was healthy looking when it was admitted to the shelter on August 18, 2009.  Photos of the same dog taken in September show it to be emaciated.  According to a necropsy, the animal died of starvation on September 4.

Since the raid, web cameras have been installed at the shelter that allow the public to monitor conditions there 24/7.

Matthew Pepper, the new Memphis Animal Shelter Administrator, officially took the helm at the facility earlier this month.

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