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Trial dates reset for soring suspects

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trial dates have once again been reset for four area residents accused of soring horses, while one was arraigned in federal court on Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter ruled Monday that Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, Paul Blackburn, 35, of Shelbyville and Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg will now stand trial Tuesday, Aug. 9 in Chattanooga.

Carter ruled that any plea bargaining must be completed and executed by July 26. A pre-trial conference is set for Aug. 1, with all motions in the case due before July 12.

Davis, Altman, and Bradford were indicted by a federal grand jury in March for allegedly soring horses and falsifying entry forms and other related paperwork.

However, a 34-count superseding indictment filed in late April charged Blackburn with being part of the conspiracy, and Davis and Altman were accused of 13 counts of wire fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering.

Bradford was arraigned on Monday and pleaded not guilty. He is already being held without bond in Marshall County on a warrant for failure to appear.

Federal court documents state that Bradford remains in custody, while the other three are free on bond.

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.

The indictment states that on or about Oct. 1 and 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 Oct, 2, 2010, Altman, Davis and Blackburn allegedly falsely listed 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.

Last month, Carter ordered Altman to stay away from a witness in the case, due to a report from U. S. Probation Officer Kevin Matherly that stated she and codefendant Davis had contacted a cooperating witness.

"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.