FLETCHER – The co-owner of a petting zoo for children is scheduled to appear in Comanche County District Court this summer on two felony charges of obtaining property/money by false pretenses.
Sammy Dwayne Snider is accused of “cheat[ing] and defraud[ing]” a Fletcher couple who paid him $23,600 to build a barn and an Elgin man who paid him $27,250 to perform some construction work on his home.
Snider, 49, was released from custody after $2,500 surety bond was posted on each charge. Snider lists a Fletcher address but does not live in the corporate limits of the town, Police Chief Jason DeLonais told Southwest Chronicle.
DeLonais said James O’Leary, 51, and his wife, Neta, 71, contacted his office on Sept. 23, 2021, “with a complaint about being financially exploited” by Snider.
The O’Learys reported communicating with Snider in 2020 about building a barn for them. Snider’s financial records showed that he deposited a $14,000 check from the O’Learys on Nov. 4, 2020; a $5,200 check from the couple on Jan. 28, 2021; and a $4,400 check from the couple on Feb. 25, 2021.
“Some of that money was for materials and some was for labor,” DeLonais said.
Snider completed the concrete work and the frame for the structure but then “broke off contact” with the O’Learys, DeLonais said. Snider “has completed no additional work since then,” the affidavit for his arrest warrant relates.
Mrs. O’Leary sent a text message to Snider on Aug. 31, 2021, asking whether he intended to finish the work. Snider “responded by saying he would not be texting them back and he was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy,” Fletcher Police Officer Dustin Wilson wrote in his affidavit. The O’Learys “have had no further contact” with Snider “since that text exchange.”
Wilson said he contacted Snider by telephone on Nov. 9, 2021, and Snider said he was unable to continue the work “because of a staff shortage and health issues.” Snider said he told the O’Learys that construction of the barn “would take in excess of a year and a half.” He also “acknowledged the work was not complete” but nevertheless told the couple “not to contact him again.”
Wilson gathered enough evidence to secure a probable cause warrant to obtain Snider’s financial records. “Officer Wilson found some inconsistencies, some things we thought the district attorney should take a look at,” DeLonais said.
Wilson reported that when Snider accepted the O’Learys’ payments his bank account had been overdrawn three times “and had an insufficient funds charge.”
Subsequently an arrest warrant was issued, but before it could be served Snider surrendered voluntarily, was booked into the Comanche County Detention Center and was released on $2,500 bond.
Special District Judge Grant Sheperd scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for Aug. 19. Snider is represented by Oklahoma City attorney Dan Delluomo.
A separate felony charge alleges that Snider engaged in “a confidence game” designed to be “a trick or deception and done with the intent to cheat and defraud” Joel Dale Fogelstrom.
On Sept. 16, 2020, Fogelstrom and Snider “agreed to a construction project” at Fogelstrom’s residence in Elgin, Comanche County Sheriff’s Department Detective Chad Kenyon wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.
Snider was supposed to replace the roof on Fogelstrom’s house, build two porches and pour a cement slab for the front porch, Kenyon reported. Snider accepted from Fogelstrom a check for $27,250 which Snider deposited into his bank account.
After several months “with no contact” from Snider, Fogelstrom “reach[ed] out” more than once “to find out when he was going to start the construction.” Each time Snider gave him an excuse, “ranging from” Snider claiming he had contracted COVID-19 to “his son having heart issues” to Snider “having cancer.”
After Snider was arrested for allegedly cheating the O’Learys, Fogelstrom “decided he needed to” contact law enforcement authorities. Fogelstrom contacted Kenyon and told him that Snider “approached him on March 1 and March 4, 2022,” seeking approval to “pay him back a little at a time.”
Fogelstrom said he asked Snider “where his money was” but Snider “would not answer him.”
Assistant District Attorney John Roose filed the second felony charge against Snider on April 6, and Special District Judge Susan Zwaan issued an arrest warrant on April 8. Snider subsequently was released from custody when bail was posted. Judge Sheperd scheduled a preliminary hearing in that case for July 18.
Snider is listed, along with his wife, as a co-owner of Snider Family Exotics Petting Zoo east of Sterling off SH-17. That facility provides “a unique hands-on experience” and, according to its Facebook page, features a variety of animals, including a kangaroo with a joey, a spider monkey, an African serval cat, a lemur, a camel, goats, a calf, a rabbit, “Dibbles” the skunk, llamas and alpacas, ducks, a lamb, an ostrich and an emu.
Swindlers won’t be
tolerated, AG says
The state Attorney General’s office has not intervened in Snider’s cases, Madelyn Hague, press secretary for Attorney General John O’Connor, told Southwest Chronicle.
O’Connor filed an embezzlement charge earlier this month against an Oklahoma County contractor alleged to have defrauded victims in several counties. Michael Hanson, 42, is charged with nine counts of embezzlement and one count of pattern of criminal offense between April 2021 and February 2022.
In the embezzlement charges, investigators allege Hanson followed the same pattern of fraudulent behavior by using his company, Leaders Construction LLC, to solicit customers who needed concrete or fencing work; he then refused to complete or refund the payments made. Authorities say Hanson stole a total of $87,031 from nine different victims in Oklahoma, Canadian and Grady counties.
“When consumers hire and pay an individual or business to do work, they are entitled to have that work done well,” O’Connor said. “My Consumer Protection Unit works diligently to hold contractors accountable for their fraudulent conduct. I will not tolerate those who try to swindle Oklahomans out of their hard-earned money.”
The AG’s office encourages consumers who believe they have been a victim of contractor fraud to file a complaint by calling the Consumer Protection Unit at (833) 681-1895, or by submitting a complaint online at www.oag.ok.gov/sites/g/files/gmc766/f/2021_consumer_complaint_form_1.pdf.