Soring prosecutor hits law, warns horse owners, traders

Public clamor over a recommendation of probation for the man caught by hidden camera beating a Tennessee walking horse has led federal prosecutors to file a 16-page explanation (read here ) that points out sentencing limitations in the federal Horse Protection Act.

“While the government is cognizant of and shares the sentiments of the public outcry and desire to see significant jail time imposed on violators … the sad reality is that the law passed by Congress does not possess significant teeth” to incarcerate former Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Thursday.

The memorandum, written by prosecutor Steve Neff, makes clear that federal officials want McConnell punished to the maximum in every other way possible. The document puts owners and horse traders on notice as well.

Neff is seeking a maximum probation period for McConnell — five years. And during that time he asks that the judge prohibit McConnell from owning, exhibiting, selling, transporting, working with or training horses, or even assisting in the training of horses.

“The one area of this case in which the court can promote respect for the law is in the arena of financial penalties. The court has the ability to impose an extensive fine under the statutory scheme — up to $250,000 — and the United States urges the court to exercise its authority in this area to the utmost,” Neff wrote.


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September 2012