Soaring Paws charity founder jailed again on fraud charges

Albert Lonzo Adams III, who admitted misusing charity funds in 2018, faces new allegations related to pet insurance fraud.
Albert Lonzo Adams III was arrested Jan. 27 on insurance fraud charges.
Albert Lonzo Adams III was arrested Jan. 27 on insurance fraud charges. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Feb. 12, 2021

TAMPA — Albert Lonzo Adams III is back in trouble.

Two years after he admitted swindling animal lovers through the Soaring Paws rescue charity, Adams is once again accused of misusing funds intended to help pets.

State investigators say Adams collected close to $13,000 through phony pet insurance claims. The claims were said to be for veterinary procedures for his two dogs, but the insurance company discovered that the procedures never occurred, prosecutors say.

Adams, 50, was arrested Jan. 27 and has remained jailed.

He faces six new felony charges of organized fraud and making a false statement in support of an insurance claim. The new allegations also brought him an alleged probation violation stemming from his sentence in the Soaring Paws case. He is being held without bail.

Related: Soaring Paws founder pleads guilty to state charges, gets 10 years probation

An arrest affidavit in the new case says that Adams submitted nine fraudulent pet insurance claims between March 4 and April 8 last year to the Healthy Paws Insurance Company. The claims were for veterinary treatments at a Riverview animal hospital, the document states.

The company paid Adams $12,984.98 in insurance benefits for five of the claims before discovering they were fraudulent, the document states.

The case was investigated by the state Division of Insurance Fraud, which obtained an arrest warrant.

Adams is a Tampa-based pilot who from 2013 to 2015 collected donations from 1,400 people across the U.S. for his Soaring Paws charity, which operated mainly through a Facebook page. The $142,000 he raised was supposed to pay for flights to relocate stray dogs and puppies for rescue groups.

Inquiries from the Tampa Bay Times and state investigators revealed that Adams lied while seeking donations. He claimed that all the money went to pay for flight costs to transport dogs, but a state investigation found that it also went toward alcohol, haircuts, flowers, veterinary bills, fast food, spa services, yard work, furniture, Apple products and to Capital One. Prosecutors said his fundraising violated state laws.

Adams ultimately pleaded guilty to five felony charges and received a 10-year probation sentence and fines and costs totaling more than $20,000. As part of a plea agreement, he was barred from running a charity.