Kelsey Lefever, the 24-year-old Honey Brook, Pa., woman who allegedly took in ex-racehorses on the premise of finding them a good home only to send them to a nearby auction populated by buyers for slaughterhouses, waived her preliminary hearing on Tuesday before Judge Lowell Witmer in East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, Pa., and is scheduled for a formal arraignment on April 19.
Lefever originally was charged with one count of deceptive business practices and four counts of theft by deception, but the deceptive business practice charge has been dropped. The charges were for two grade 3 felonies and two grade 1 misdemeanors.
A report in a Philadelphia newspaper said Lefever will agree to enter a first-offender program as part of a negotiated deal with prosecutors, receive two years of probation, and be prevented from activities related to horses. She will not be allowed to acquire horses during her probation, according to the report.
“We agreed under certain conditions that she would enter the first-time offenders program,” assistant district attorney Francis Chardo III told the the Inquirer. “She will be restricted from activities relating to horses.” He also said Lefever would be banned from ever getting a racing license from the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission. Terms of her negotiated settllement and probation could be spelled out April 19.
Restitution, Chardo said, would be possible but determining the value of the horses would be tricky because they were “sold for one dollar.”
Lefever was charged in November after a lengthy investigation that began when Beau Jaques was identified in a kill buyer's truck at the New Holland auction grounds in Pennsylvania on May 16. Only three days earlier, according to the affidavit of probable cause, owner Kevin Patterson gave Lefever $200 and 10 bags of horse feed after she said she could find a good home for Beau Jaques. Three other horses in the same van allegedly were given to Lefever under the same premise. All of them were presumed slaughtered only a few days later in Canada.
Lefever had been recommended to Patterson by other trainers at Penn National racetrack who said she had done a good job finding homes for their horses. Lefever was a frequent visitor to the Penn National stable area, sources have said, though she was not licensed by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.
When Lefever learned of the state police investigation and began to get nervous, the affidavit says, she asked Amy Groninger, a friend who originally was going to adopt Beau Jaques, to say someone else had the horse but that the person's full name was unknown. Groninger told investigators Lefever admitted in a conversation with her that this was not an isolated incident.
“I killed every one of those f—ing horses, over 120 of them, if they only knew,” Lefever allegedly said, according to Groninger's statement in the affidavit of probable cause. “I only have five left and the ones that you have. Every one of them is dead. I don't even know their names and there wasn't a goddamn thing they could do about it because they gave me those horses. I didn't sign one contract for any of them and there is no paper trail from Bruce (Rotz, the buyer for the Canadian slaughter plant), so they have to prove it.”
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