Back in May of 2016, we introduced you to the lovely gem known as Albert Lonzo Adams III of Soaring Paws. Adams, a one-time pilot whose private pilot license was no longer current due to the lack of a medical certificate on file if we recall correctly, like so many us thought that actually having a job is hard work. Unlike most of us, however, Adams decided he would scam gullible animal lovers out of donations instead of making an honest living, and so here we are.
Thanks to several wonderful pieces by Tampa Bay Times reporter Patty Ryan last year, Adams’ scheme to fly fake kill shelter pets to fake forever homes was quickly falling apart, and his attempts to hide his trail were too little too late. The Florida Department of Agriculture opened an investigation and finally, after their hard work combing through the evidence, Adams was arrested just before Christmas.
For years, animal rescue pilot Albert Lonzo Adams III solicited contributions to his Tampa charity Soaring Paws, enlisting the public to help him fly abandoned dogs to new homes all over the southeastern United States. He even asked for help buying an airplane.
But he lied to get people’s money and then misused some of the $140,000 he collected, spending it on liquor, furniture, restaurant tabs, his mortgage and credit card bills, a state investigator concluded in a criminal report.
Adams, 47, turned himself in Thursday at the Hillsborough County Jail to face seven felony charges relating to his operation of Soaring Paws. He was released about 90 minutes later after posting $14,000 bail, according to jail records.
“Soaring Paws Inc., through Albert Adams, has used various means, particularly through social media, to solicit donations while making misrepresentations or misleading statements to the public in order to gain said donations,” wrote state criminal investigator Randall Jones of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
One of the many accusations lobbed against Adams is that he set up a GoFundMe campaign to purchase a plane that wasn’t for sale.
Adams also claimed that Mark Cuban gifted him an airplane.
After the Dept of Ag’s investigation was opened in early 2016, he even claimed that the ASPCA hosted him in New York City and provided him with a plaque. This claim was flatly denied by the ASPCA when contacted to confirm the alleged event. In other words, never happened.
Adams claims this is all just a minor paperwork error (dang, you know how particular those charity regulatory orgs can be, you guys) that will be settled soon. “It was just a simple clerical error and we will take the steps needed to prove that all we wanted to do and all we ever did was help animals in kill shelters make it to forever homes,” he said.
Great Nonprofits says that the organization flies 850 animals per year. Adams frequently posted to his organization’s Facebook page claiming Soaring Paws was flying animals to forever homes during the time he was licensed by the FAA to fly, though he often recycled photos of puppies he assisted years before all this trouble began.
In a July letter to a civil court judge regarding an open case against him for unpaid boat storage fees at a local marina, Adams said he “doesn’t operate Soaring Paws and isn’t even a pilot.”
Good luck weaseling out of this one, buddy. Safe to say Adams is definitely grounded.