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4th person charged with soring horses

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A 34-count superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury Tuesday against three people already accused of soring horses, with a fourth person also now charged.

Paul Blackburn, 35, of Shelbyville was indicted Tuesday along with Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, and Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg.

Altman, Davis and Bradford were indicted by a federal grand jury in March for soring horses and are currently free on no bond.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, the new indictments charge the four with additional violations of the federal Horse Protection Act "and related financial crimes."

Davis and Altman have also been charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering.

Authorities alleged that as part of Davis's horse training operation, he and Altman collected payments from out-of-state clients based upon false representations that horses would be trained in accordance with the Horse Protection Act.

Davis and Altman then allegedly used the funds to perpetuate the horse training operation, using methods specifically prohibited by the Horse Protection Act, "including mechanical and chemical soring procedures," Public Information Officer Sharry Dedman-Beard said.

Federal prosecutors are also seeking asset forfeiture in this case from Davis and Altman.

"Some of the alleged conduct of the defendants contained in this superseding indictment constitutes federal felonies, if convicted," U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Agriculture want to put this industry on notice that such conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to federal prosecution," Killian said.

The four did not appear in federal court to be arraigned on the new charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Neff will prosecute the case on behalf of the United States.

The indictment alleges that from 2002 to October 2010, Davis, Altman, Bradford and Blackburn "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.

New allegations state that on or about Oct. 1 & 2, 2010, after Davis received a lifetime ban from participating in horse shows, he allegedly entered horses he was paid to train at the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors' Association Fall Show in Shelbyville.

On or about October 2, 2010, Altman, Davis and Blackburn allegedly falsely listed defendant Blackburn as the trainer for the horse, Silver Dollar Son, also known as "Silver Dollar Sun," on the entry paperwork for the SSHBEA Annual Fall Show.

Blackburn allegedly received a DQP citation for Silver Dollar Son for "being unilaterally sore during inspection" and the indictment also says that Davis falsely claimed that Bradford was scheduled to participate and act as a trainer in the July 30, 2010 Manchester horse show on behalf of Davis. Bradford also allegedly made the same false claims.

The indictment also alleges that on Nov. 9, 2010, Altman and Blackburn endorsed a winnings check from SSHBEA for "sweepstakes," payable to Blackburn and deposited the check into Davis' bank account.