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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Soring trial set for May 31

Friday, March 25, 2011

A federal judge has set a trial date of May 31 for three people accused of "soring" horses.

Last Friday, a four-count indictment was returned on Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, and Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg.

The three allegedly conspired to violate the federal Horse Protection Act by soring horses and falsifying entry forms and other related paperwork, according to the federal indictment.

Davis, Altman and Bradford were arrested last Friday, but are currently free on no bond.

Documents were unsealed in federal court late Thursday stating that the three have until May 17 to enter a plea bargain in the case and any written agreement would be due by that date.

If there is no plea, then a jury trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., May 31 in federal court in Chattanooga, according to an order filed by U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter.

Carter ordered Davis and Altman to avoid all contact with horses owned by others and to refrain from training them. Davis must arrange to have those horses not owned by him to cared for by "someone else," however, he and Altman may care and feed the horses they own.

Davis and Altman were also ordered to reside separately from each other and to arrange child visitation with one another, but the two would be allowed contact so that they could work together at a car lot.

As for Bradford, he has been ordered to avoid all contact with horses at the Davis farm and he may care for his own horses at his residence.

Soring allegations

The indictment alleges that from 2002 to October 2010, Davis, Altman and Bradford "and others known and unknown" conspired to sore the horses and falsify documents.

According to the indictment, the object of the conspiracy was to sore horses without being detected by the USDA and Designated Qualified Persons (DQP) so that additional customers would pay Davis to board and train their horses at his barn. DQPs are inspectors who check horses competing in horse shows for evidence of soring.

It is alleged that Davis owned a business training spotted saddle horses, and that "others known and unknown" used various methods to sore the horses to improve their gait by placing bolts in the animals' feet, taping blocks to the horses' feet and "other soring methods."

Davis allegedly would mask the soring by removing the devices before inspection and giving the horses shots to reduce their reaction to the inspection.

Altman and Davis also allegedly used other people as nominee trainers to obtain trainer's licenses, and that Davis would protect himself from being cited for violations by using the nominees to enter and show the horses he trained.

Davis, Altman and Bradford also allegedly agreed to falsify entry forms and other paperwork for various shows by claiming that Bradford and others were the trainers for horses actually trained by Davis.

The indictment claims that in May 2010, Altman paid the trainer's license fee for Bradford and that on or about July 30, 2010, Davis placed a bolt in the hoof of the horse Jose Is My Daddy prior to a horse show in Manchester.

Altman allegedly falsely listed Bradford as the trainer for the horse in the Manchester show and allegedly forged his signature. Then in September of last year, Davis allegedly advised potential witnesses not to cooperate with any investigation into his alleged soring practices.

After Davis was banned for life from participating in horse shows, he entered horses he was paid to train in the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors' Association fall show in Shelbyville last October, the federal indictment states.

Altman allegedly claimed on Oct. 13, 2010 that Bradford was scheduled to participate and act as a trainer in the Manchester horse show on Davis' behalf. Bradford also allegedly made the same claim.

The investigation leading to the indictment was initiated in August 2010 and was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, the Justice Department said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Neff will prosecute the case on behalf of the United States.

Davis is represented by Shelbyville attorney John Norton, and federal public defender Mary Ellen Coleman represents Bradford. No defense attorney is listed for Altman, however.