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Something's fishy at Tiger Creek

Stealing from the animals? That’s just another day at the office for Brian Werner Ferris of Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary in Tyler, TX. This experienced con man has fraudulently embezzled millions of dollars from his nonprofit pseudo-sanctuary, while simultaneously denying animals veterinary treatment and failing to expand enclosures.

In fact, he invested the nonprofit's money in a Ponzi real estate scheme and lost $44,000 of $50,000, according to federal court documents.

Tiger Creek Sanctuary has had serious financial allegations pending since 2015, including an active Attorney General complaint. A 2017 review of Werner Ferris’ bank account showed numerous personal bills and expenses were being paid for by Tiger Creek Sanctuary, according to documents.

“An examination of the Defendant's bank records clearly demonstrate that Defendant Werner treats the companies as his own personal banks, comingles funds, and transfers money back and forth between the different companies and the different accounts at will,” documents say. “Defendant Werner uses Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge's bank account as his own personal account.”

Tax documents indicate Werner Ferris fraudulently took a $1,670,324 payout from his nonprofit in 2014, despite being in debt to the nonprofit for $533,305 in cash advances. He claimed the $1.6 million was to cover deferred compensation plus interest for the years he didn’t take a salary from 1995-2013.

Past tax filings indicate Werner Ferris took a salary each year from 2005-2013, along with a deferred compensation payout of $572,952 in 2008. The combined total of his salary and deferred compensation for those years is $2,155,155.

According to court records, Werner Ferris’ nonprofits are “a farce designed to cause confusion and hide assets for the benefit of [Werner Ferris], his current and former wives, his children, and his friends, many of whom draw a full-time salary.”

Werner Ferris and Tiger Creek employee Josh Smith are accused of scamming businesses and individuals out of more than $10,000 by selling timeshares to a fake business called Tiger Creek Safari Resort. The business was to include “a Safari Clubhouse, a planned Great Cat Lodge, an outdoor pool and spa, tennis court and fitness center with saunas," documents say, but the project never came to fruition.

Former employees say the money at Tiger Creek Sanctuary intended to be used to expand enclosures and finish an on-site medical center for the animals is instead being embezzled by Werner Ferris. Documents say Werner Ferris loaned Tiger Creek Sanctuary nonprofit funds to the for-profit Tiger Creek Safari Resort, while simultaneously posting GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for the animals at the nonprofit. “Those needs would be covered if the loan to the for-profit had not taken place,” documents say.

According to court records, Werner Ferris’ nonprofits “are nothing but a sham intended to further confuse those that work for the entities and/or the public.”


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