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Witness 'fearful' of Altman

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A woman accused of soring horses by federal authorities has been ordered to stay away from a witness in the case, who claimed of being "fearful."

Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, has been ordered by a U.S. Magistrate to avoid all contact with anyone "who is or may become a victim or potential witness in the investigation or prosecution" in the soring case.

Altman was indicted last week along with Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Paul Blackburn, 35, of Shelbyville and Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg in a superseding indictment that alleged additional violations of the federal Horse Protection Act "and related financial crimes."

Davis and Altman were also charged last week with 13 counts of wire fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering.

Altman, Davis and Bradford had been indicted by a federal grand jury on March 18 on the original charges related to soring horses and were placed on no bond under pretrial services supervision.

According to a report from U. S. Probation Officer Kevin Matherly, his office received information on April 7 that Altman "and co-defendant Davis had contacted a cooperating witness in this case."

"The witness does not wish to have any contact with any named defendant in this case and stated they are fearful of them," Matherly wrote.

The next day, Supervising United States Probation Officer Janet Landers spoke to Altman's attorney, Gerald H. Summers, informing him of the situation, and Summer agreed to the modification of the conditions for her pretrial release.

Altman was then told on April 11 "to have no contact with any witness or potential witness." The order was signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter on Tuesday.

Authorities have 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 Act, "including mechanical and chemical soring procedures," Public Information Officer Sharry Dedman-Beard said.

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.

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

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