A Shelbyville man is facing a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges involving soring spotted saddle horses.
Paul Blackburn, 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga Tuesday to conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act. He is to be sentenced on Jan. 23 and faces up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Blackburn had announced his intention to plead guilty two weeks ago, along with co-defendants Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville; Barney Davis, 38, and Jeffery Bradford, 33, both of Lewisburg.
The three are scheduled to appear in Chattanooga before U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter on Nov. 8 to plead guilty, at which time a sentencing date will be announced.
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 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.
The 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.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Neff and Kent Anderson represented the United States in the case.