Child's Slip Implicates Parents Who Sold Neighbor's Dog on Craigslist

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A Pittsburgh-area couple faces charges of conspiracy after selling a neighbor's puppy on Craigslist for $50, inadvertently caught by their 5-year-old son's slip of the tongue.

Scott Duff, 41, and Roxanne Duff, 38, of Leechberg, Pa., sold their neighbor's 6-month-old Rottweiler puppy, Bailey, after it wandered into their yard, along with a golden retriever mix, on Sept. 3. The Duffs then repeatedly gave authorities conflicting information about the sale and whereabouts of the dog, according to the police criminal complaint filed in Armstrong County.

When Roxanne Duff left a phone message for police on Sept. 3 saying the dogs had come into her residence and asked what to do, she was told to contact the local animal shelter or a dog catcher. Duff told police that she posted on several Internet sites seeking the owners of the wayward dogs.

She also told police that the Rottweiler puppy had since left her property and had not returned.

Later that evening, Shawn Lerch, the owner of the Rottweiler puppy and the golden retriever mix, contacted the Leechberg Police Department to say that Roxanne Duff had returned the golden retriever, but he needed someone to check the area for the missing Bailey. Later, he told police that he had reason to believe that the Duffs still had Bailey.

Scott Duff asked the police to ask Lerch to stop calling him, because "they did not have the dog," according to the police report.

The next day, Chief of Police Michael Diebold went to the Duff residence to question the couple about the missing Rottweiler and found found the Duff's young child at home with a babysitter. Officers asked the two about the missing puppy, and the child stated "his mommy had given the dog to a woman from the Internet."

Diebold then contacted Scott Duff to confront him with this new information, informing him that charges would be filed if he still had Bailey or had "otherwise disposed" of the dog.

"Mr. Duff continued to say to the chief that the puppy escaped from his residence after it initially was found," the police report stated. Calls to the Leechberg Police Department went unanawered.

Shortly after this conversation, Scott Duff phoned Chief Diebold and admitted that his wife had "given the dog away by posting an ad on Craigslist," according to the police report. After Diebold told Scott Duff that his wife would have to call and that the dog "needed to be returned immediately," she admitted that she had put the pup up for sale on Craigslist for $50, and that her previous report about not having the dog was false.

After several conversations with the chief of police, Scott Duff ultimately admitted that he also had knowledge of the sale of Bailey to a woman in Pittsburgh. Roxanne Duff ultimately went to Pittsburgh to retrieve Bailey, and then handed him over to the police.

Bailey has now been returned to his owner, Shawn Lerch. Attempts to reach Lerch were not successful.

Police have now charged Scott and Roxanne Duff with not making a reasonable effort to return lost property, two counts of conspiracy and filing false reports.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31.

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