Charges dropped against animal control officer, but could return

Charges have been dropped against a longtime Jackson County Animal Control officer accused of using his position to steal livestock, but officials left open the possibility that charges could be refiled.

Jackson County Sheriff's investigators said Andy Ray Lane, 53, used his position to force a Wimer man to give him two horses and fencing. Investigators say they have received other complaints that Lane has misused his position with the county to seize animals or property.

Arraigned July 24 in Jackson County Circuit Court, Lane was charged with two counts of extortion, two counts of first-degree theft, two counts of coercion and one count of official misconduct.

Prosecutors requested Friday that Judge Ray White dismiss the charges, said District Attorney Mark Huddleston. But Huddleston added the investigation remains ongoing

"We expect a final report next week," he said.

Lane recently was terminated from his position with the county after being placed on paid administrative leave following the arraignment, said his defense attorney, Bob Abel.

Lane's union representative will appeal the termination, Abel said. The state dropped the charges against his client after it was unable to get a grand jury indictment in a timely manner, said Abel.

"They had problems finishing their investigation so they could go to the grand jury," Abel said. "But they are still investigating. And it is unknown when or if they're going to go to a grand jury."

The charges arose from an incident in April, which police said began after Lane responded to a report of abuse of two horses that were enclosed in a pen which Lane told the owner was too small.

Jackson County Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said Lane reportedly returned to the residence and warned the property owner he could face stiff fines if the situation was not corrected. Lane then returned to the house with a trailer and took the horses and some expensive fence panels to help corral the animals, Fagan said.

Fagan said his office received more than two dozen calls after reports of Lane's arrest. Fagan said many of the scenarios callers described closely matched the case for which Lane was arrested.

Reach Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or

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