Two Lewisburg men were indicted by a federal grand jury last week in Chattanooga, charged with allegedly violating the Horse Protection Act.
Barney Davis, 38, and Jeffery Bradford, 33, both of Lewisburg, and Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, were named in the four-count indictment.
The indictment states that the three conspired from 2002 to October 2010 to violate the Horse Protection Act by "soring" horses and falsifying show entry forms and related documents.
The indictment alleges that the object of the conspiracy was to "sore" horses in order to win at shows without being detected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors or by the "designated qualified persons" who inspect all entries at walking horse shows. If the spotted saddle horses Davis trained were winners, this would attract more clients to his barn, the indictment alleges.
The indictment further alleges that Davis and Altman - in addition to "soring" the horses and concealing the fact they had done this - falsified paper work so that other people, such as Bradford, were listed as trainers and would take the blame if a horse were eliminated for being sore.
According to the indictment, Davis paid for a trainer's license for Bradford in May 2010.
In July, Davis allegedly placed a bolt in the hoof of the horse Jose Is My Daddy, prior to a horse show in Manchester, as well as listing Bradford as the trainer and forging his signature on the entry form, the indictment states. Later last year, Davis was banned for life from participating in horse shows, but still entered horses he was paid to train in the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Fall Show in Shelbyville.
According to a report by WTVC Chattanooga, United States Attorney Bill Killian said, "The alleged violations in this indictment undermine the equine industry and give unfair advantage to some over others, in addition to causing cruelty to the animals. We will always pursue cases involving the falsification of federal records."
The investigation leading to this indictment was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. The USDA-OIG has the authority to investigate criminal violations of the Horse Protection Act including allegations related to soring and false entries or statements.
The OIG investigation of this case was initiated in August. Special Agent-in-Charge, Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Southeast Region, stated, "The USDA-OIG will continue to aggressively pursue violations of the Horse Protection Act in order to protect horses and competitors from illegal and unfair acts and practices."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Neff will prosecute the case on behalf of the United States.
An attempt to reach Davis for comment was unsuccessful.