Michelson: I can account for every horse that I sold for Kelsey Lefever

by | 01.23.2012 | 8:49am

Melissa Michelson, who was associated with Kelsey Lefever when the latter was operating an alleged horse adoption for slaughter scam out of Penn National racecourse last May, issued a statement distancing herself from Lefever, who has been charged with five counts of deceptive business practices and theft by deception. Lefever has a preliminary hearing scheduled in front of Judge Lowell A. Witmer in East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, Pa., on Feb. 6.

Michelson, who operates M and M Equestrian, was interviewed by Pennsylvania State Police and an investigator with the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission during a five-month investigation but was not found to be involved in the alleged scheme in any way. Lefever has been charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly taking in four horses from two owners at Penn National, assuring the owners she would find good homes for the horses (and in one case taking cash and 10 bags of horse feed), and then almost immediately selling them to a known kill-buyer at the New Holland horse auction in Lancaster County, Pa.

In a phone conversation with a friend, Lefever is alleged to have said she “killed” over 120 horses.

After she learned horses entrusted to Lefever wound up in the hands of a kill buyer at New Holland, Michelson said she immediately terminated all communications and dealings with Lefever.

“This has been very distressing to me also and hurtful that so many people have included my name in their negative emails and commentaries,” Michelson said in an email to the Paulick Report. “I would appreciate those who love and care about horses be reassured that I was and have been thoroughly cooperative with both the Pennsylvania State Police investigation and the Penn National Racetrack – Pennsylvania Racing Commission investigators. I voluntarily shared my records with them, and I was completely cleared of any participation in these events.

“As you note,” Michelson continued, “I am not a target of any further investigation. Gratifyingly, as a result of these news reports and commentaries, I have received many testimonials on my Facebook page from current and previous customers attesting to my love of horses and commitment to finding good homes for every horse, and to re-training OTTBs so they can have successful second careers.”

Following is the statement by Michelson on the website of M and M Equestrian, which is based in Honey Brook, Pa., also listed as the town where Lefever resides:

“The incident involving Kelsey Lefever is sad and unfortunate. I am a professional equestrian and I am completely committed to the training and welfare of horses and have the highest regard and respect for horses and horse people. I have the highest standards and ethics and assume responsibility for trying to find a good home and an appreciative, loving, or caring owner for every horse I train or sell. My many customers know that they can count on me to take a horse back if the match is not a good one and I will find another suitable home for the horse.  I have never had a horse go to slaughter.  I would never allow a horse to go to slaughter if I knew that was its intended fate, and I would never knowingly work with anyone who would take a horse to slaughter. I love horses and I consider such behavior and actions reprehensible.

“I was briefly associated with Kelsey Lefever and met her when she brought a very nice horse for me to sell on sale board with commission, which is a big part of my business.  She seemed to have access to many OTTB's through trainers at Penn National and other race tracks, that I did not have.  At the time Kelsey seemed to care about the horses and finding them good homes.  As a way of making it easier for trainers with horses for sale to contact us I had some pens and mugs made for Kelsey to give out at the track with the slogan, “Make your slow racehorse count, finding new homes for OTTB's”.”

“On May 22, 2011 I heard and learned for the very first time that there was a concern that some horses entrusted to Kelsey had been seen on a truck at New Holland thought to be for transport to Canada for slaughter. I have no knowledge of any of the horses on the truck or the trainers or the owners involved. Although I had no first hand knowledge of what actually happened for Kelsey's possible participation, I did tell Kelsey immediately that I was suspending all further equestrian business and communications with her until this matter was resolved and her name was cleared.

“For the benefit of those who have any issues regarding my participation in this affair, please be advised that I was contacted during the Pennsylvania State Police investigation and have been fully cooperative.  As of this date I am not even fully aware if my testimony will be necessary should Kelsey Lefever's case go to trial. In addition, I was also interviewed by Penn National Racing Commission investigators and voluntarily provided them with supporting materials documenting the successful placement of all horses entrusted to me.

“Even today I have no additional information other than what I am now reading in the news or on the Internet.  I continue to conduct business with the highest standards, ethics, and concern for every horse. I can account for every horse that I sold for Kelsey Lefever and I can account for every horse I ever sold to any other buyer other than Kelsey. I am grateful that I was able to find a good home for every horse that I sold for Kelsey on consignment.  I am just as surprised as many others to read these accusations. I feel awful in this situation because I can empathize with other owners and trainers. I truly care about every horse and take great pride in rehabilitating horses and giving them new careers and second chances. I assure you that if you trust your horse to me your horse will be in good hands. I stand on my reputation and am always eager to make new equestrian friends and colleagues.”

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