Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Jackie McConnell gets probation, $75,000 fine

‘Ambiguous’ plea deal will let him avoid prison

By Bobby Allyn

The Tennessean

Jackie L. McConnell, the notorious Tennessee Walking Horse trainer caught on video brutally abusing horses, was sentenced on Tuesday to pay $75,000 and serve three years of probation for violating federal law.

After deliberating for nearly two hours, U.S. District Court Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. accepted the plea agreement reached between McConnell’s attorneys and federal prosecutors. McConnell’s sentence fell short of the maximum penalty under the agreement of $250,000 and five years of probation.

The maximum possible sentence for the crime was five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Mattice characterized the plea agreement as “substantially ambiguous” for not spelling out a specific punishment. His ruling did not fulfill the prosecutors’ wishes for a maximum sentence under the agreement.

“Are you the Jackie McConnell I’ve been reading so much about lately?” Mattice asked as the hearing began.

“Yes, sir,” McConnell replied.

Mattice, who offered up a lengthy preamble about plea agreements before hearing from the attorneys, then asked both sides to take a seat. “This may take a little while,” he said.



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September 2012