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Horsewoman avoids jail in horse meat case

  |   Feb. 22, 2012 at 7:14 PM
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania horse trainer and rider will be banned from the race industry for life but avoid prison time for selling thoroughbreds for meat, prosecutors say.

Kelsey Lefever, 24, of Honeybrook, a fixture on the local horse show circuit who was accused of selling horses for slaughterhouses after promising to find them new homes, abruptly waived her preliminary hearing Tuesday and agreed to enter a first-offender program, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

"We agreed under certain conditions that she enter the first-time offenders program," said Francis Chardo, Dauphin County first assistant district attorney. "She will be restricted from activities relating to horses."

Chardo said Lefever would be banned for life from getting a Pennsylvania thoroughbred racing license. That would prevent her from any working at the racetrack again or plying her trade -- horse training.

Lefever was charged November following a state police investigation revealed she contracted to sell four retired racehorses to a Quebec slaughterhouse after promising their previous owners she'd rehabilitate the animals and find them new homes, charging documents said.

One horse dealer witness quoted Lefever as saying: "I killed every one of those … horses, over 120 of them. Every one of them is dead. I don't even know their names and there wasn't a . . . thing [the sellers] could do about it because they gave me those horses," the documents said.

"Ms. Lefever is concerned about the safety of all horses, and this doesn't diminish her love of horses," Lefever's attorney, J. Michael Sheldon, said.

A 2006 ban on the slaughter of horses for meat in the United States was lifted late last year and it is legal to export horses to Mexico, Canada and Japan for slaughter. Some members of Congress want to reinstate the ban and also outlaw shipping horses to other countries for slaughter, the Inquirer said.

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