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Centerplate CEO resigns amidst dog abuse scandal

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Centerplate has announced they will remove CEO Desmond Hague following release of a video showing him abusing a dog.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports, Centerplate is expected to announce on Tuesday that their CEO, Desmond Hague, will be removed from his position following the release of a video of him abusing a dog. COO Chris Verros will replace him as acting CEO. Global News and the San Diego Union Tribune are among the sites reporting this.

The Union-Tribune received an advance copy of a news release, and it featured quotations from Centerplate chairman Joe O'Donnell.

"Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I'd like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances."

Last week, Centerplate announced that Hague would have to donate $100,000 to a charity that would work to reduce cruelty to animals, perform 1,000 hours of community service, and undergo anger management. The reaction to that punishment was swift, with many viewing it as a relatively easy out. Fortunately, people expressed themselves to Centerplate in a variety of ways. 183,000 people have signed this Change.org petition, and I have been CC'd on numerous emails to the Centerplate PR email addresses I published last week. I know I am just a small corner of the Internet, but I appreciate the effort people took to express themselves to Centerplate.

And in case you're wondering, there are sick fools who would try and defend Hague's reprehensible behavior:

"This is totally out of his character," said one source, who confirmed news of Hague's impending departure but declined to be named because he was not authorized to release the news. "This is a guy who works 18 hours a day, seven days a week."

The source said Hague had been at a reception in late July and was taking the dog - named Sade - out for a walk after several cocktails. Apparently the leash caught in his hand as Sade tried to run ahead and Hague became angry when he hurt his fingers while trying to control the animal.

The kind of abuse Hague leveled on that dog is indicative of a lot more than working too many hours. It is indicative of a man who needs more than just anger management classes. His removal at Centerplate will hopefully give him the shock he needs to seek real help.

Although it took ten days, Centerplate finally came to the only real decision they could make. It is possible they could have ridden out the bad PR, but given how big they are, simply replacing the new CEO should allow them to move past this issue. It is likely they recognized some of the potential financial issues moving forward. According to the Union-Tribune article, Centerplate's $17 million contract with the city of San Diego was due to expire in February, and the mayor of San Diego said he would review the deal. If they changed vendors, this news likely would have come back to the forefront, creating another bad wave of publicity.

The San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants each released statements about the matter (49ers statementGiants statement), as did other vendors around the country. The 49ers are in the first year of a five year contract with Centerplate. They would need to review their legal options, but the removal of the CEO takes this issue off the table.

Fooch's Update: Centerplate's PR people sent along the statement. It reads as follows:

Centerplate's board of directors announced today that Chris Verros has been appointed to the role of acting president and chief executive officer, effective immediately, following the resignation of Desmond Hague from the company. The decision comes as a result of Hague's personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care.

"We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals," said Joe O'Donnell, chairman of the board of directors for Centerplate. "Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I'd like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances."

Chris Verros assumes the new role with more than 35 years of experience and a reputation as one of the industry's most respected leaders. Chief Operating Officer for Centerplate since 2010, he helped the company to achieve unprecedented growth. Prior to joining Centerplate, Verros was Executive Vice President of Boston Culinary Group and previously served as a Group President of Fine Host Corporation, following the 1993 acquisition of FanFare, Inc., a company he co-founded in 1986.

"I have been proud to work with Chris for more than 20 years, and feel that Centerplate is incredibly fortunate to have such a strong leader who can step into the role immediately," O'Donnell added, "This past week has been very difficult for our company, our employees and our clients in particular, and I have no doubt that Chris' experience, vision, integrity, and commitment to our values and mission will help us all move forward together."