The three remaining defendants in an alleged conspiracy involving soring spotted saddle horses have announced their intention to plead guilty to federal charges.
Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville; Barney Davis, 38, and Jeffery Bradford, 33, both of Lewisburg; and Paul Blackburn, 35, of Shelbyville have all had hearings set before U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter to change their pleas to guilty.
Davis, Altman and Bradford will appear in Chattanooga on Nov. 8, while Blackburn will make his appearance on Oct. 18. Davis had already announced his intention to change his plea last week.
In March, Altman, Davis, and Bradford were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly soring spotted saddle horses and falsifying entry forms and other related paperwork.
A 34-count superseding indictment filed in late April charged Blackburn with being part of the conspiracy. Davis and Altman were charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering.
Davis was taken into custody by federal marshals in late July for allegedly violating the terms of his bond, which barred him from having any contact with horses owned by other people, including training those horses.
The federal indictment alleges that from 2002 to October 2010, Davis and the three conspired to sore the horses and falsify documents. The purpose of the alleged conspiracy was to sore horses without being detected by the USDA and Designated Qualified Persons so that additional customers would pay Davis to board and train their horses at his barn.
DQPs are inspectors who check horses competing in shows for evidence of soring. Davis allegedly entered spotted saddle horses he was paid to train at the SSHBEA Fall Show in Shelbyville.
The indictment also alleges that an endorsed winnings check from the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors Association was deposited into Davis' bank account.
Mac Motes, president of SSHBEA, has told the T-G that Davis was not a member of their association and that they have no affiliation with him. Also, Davis is not a member of the Walking Horse Trainers' Association.
Meanwhile, the USDA has suspended three trainers for alleged violations that occurred in Shelbyville during two recent horse shows.
According to an online database of suspensions maintained by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Terry Doyle of Cynthiana, Ky., Jack Way of Shelbyville and John Odom of Midland, N.C., were all ticketed by SHOW.
SHOW stands for "Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections and Winning Fairly," and is the Celebration-sanctioned horse industry organization that ensures horses are in compliance with the Horse Protection Act.
Doyle was cited at the TWHBEA National Futurity and has been suspended until Sept. 21, 2012, receiving a fine, while Way and Odom were ticketed during the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, with suspensions ending on Oct. 4, 2012.