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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index
    Release No. 10-124

    August 27, 2010

    CALIFORNIA WOMAN WHO SOLD ABUSED AND SICK HORSES OVER THE INTERNET AGREES TO PLEAD TO FEDERAL FRAUD CHARGES

    LOS ANGELES – A San Bernardino County woman has agreed to plead guilty to a federal fraud charge, admitting that she used several websites to defraud would-be purchases of horses from across the nation, United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. announced today.

    In a plea agreement filed late yesterday, Trina Lee Kenney, 32, of Wrightwood, California, agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud for defrauding at least 61 prospective horse purchasers residing in 23 states and Canada.

    Kenney offered horses for sale in advertisements she placed on various Internet sites, but the ads made false claims, including that horses were specific breeds or had specific pedigrees, that the horses were registered with national or international organizations, and that the horses had specific physical characteristics, abilities, and temperaments. Kenney also made false representations concerning the horses’ health and that purchasers would be protected by a “money back” satisfaction guarantee. Kenney encouraged interested buyers to place deposits or pay for horses in full by falsely representing that others were interested in purchasing a particular horse, or that a particular horse was being sold at a discount because it needed to be sold quickly. Doing business under several names – including Prestige Distribution, Horses and Ponies, and Star Horses – Kenney advertised the horses for sale on Internet sites such as dreamhorse.com, eqine.com, equinenow.com, horsetopia.com and agdirect.com.

    After receiving payment for a horse purchase, Kenney defrauded customers in a number of ways, including failing to provide a horse, failing to refund monies to victims who received substandard horses, and delivering a horse completely different from the horse the victim had agreed to purchase. When victims complained or sought to exercise the guarantees promised by Kenney, she refused to return victims’ phone calls or emails, falsely claimed that victims had themselves breached sales contracts, and threatened to sue victims for “defaming” Kenney.

    After Kenney’s victims posted complaints about her fraudulent scheme on Internet bulletin boards and in horse-related chat rooms, Kenney began using a series of aliases to conceal her identity and continue the fraudulent scheme.

    Kenney attempted to sell a horse to an FBI agent and a United States Postal Inspector, who were both acting in an undercover capacity. After accepting $5,000 in payments for the purchase of “Azure” – a Friesian mare Kenney had fabricated –  Kenney did not respond to email or email messages from the undercover agents.

    In the plea agreement filed today, Kenney also admitted that she lied when she made claims that horses she sold were safe for children and beginner riders.  Kenney also admitted that she drugged a horse to make it appear docile during a victim’s examination of the horse, and that she had painted at least two horses to make them appear black, rather than brown, in color. Kenney further acknowledged that various horses she delivered were starved, were covered in sores and cuts, had hooves that had been untrimmed so long the horses were unable to walk, or were suffering from strangles, a severely contagious equine respiratory disease. 

    Kenney is scheduled to appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles on September 7 for arraignment.

    The mail fraud Kenney has agreed to plead guilty to carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

    The case against Trina Lee Kenney is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

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    Release No. 10-124

    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index