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April 26, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


Blackburn Added to Conspiracy and Charged with Horse Protection Act Violations; Davis and Altman charged with Wire Fraud and Money Laundering

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - A federal grand jury in Chattanooga returned a 34-count superseding indictment on April 26, 2011, against Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Tenn., Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg, Tenn., and Paul Blackburn, 35, of Shelbyville, Tenn., charging them with additional violations of the federal Horse Protection Act and related financial crimes.

The defendants have not appeared in court to be arraigned on the new charges.

According to the superseding indictment, Davis, Altman, Bradford, and Blackburn conspired to violate the federal Horse Protection Act by “soring” horses and falsifying entry forms and other related paperwork. “Soring” is a unlawful practice where items like bolts are driven into horse’s hoofs, foreign objects are attached to the legs of the animals, or chemicals are used to produce pain and sensitivity to alter the gait of a horse. The altered gait is valued at horse competitions.

As part of Davis’s horse training operation, Davis and Altman collected payments from out-of-state clients based upon false representations that horses would be trained in accordance with the Horse Protection Act. Davis and Altman then used these funds to perpetuate the horse training operation, using methods specifically prohibited by the Horse Protection Act, including mechanical and chemical soring procedures.

The United States is seeking asset forfeiture in this case from Davis and Altman. Additional allegations are outlined in the indictment, which is attached to this release.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said, “Some of the alleged conduct of the defendants contained in this superseding indictment constitutes federal felonies, if convicted. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Agriculture want to put this industry on notice that such conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to federal prosecution.”

The investigation leading to this indictment was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). 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 2010. As set forth at the time the original indictment was returned, 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.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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