Horse seized in a tax fraud case sold back to owner after authorities realized how much it cost to look after; ‘gross abuse of power,’ says Adam Trenk, Rose Law Group partner and director of equine law

By Ryan Hogg | Business Insider

The US Government sold a $750,000 showjumping horse back to its owner for just $25,000 after realizing it would cost too much to look after, Bloomberg reported.

Authorities initially seized the horse, called Lex, after its owner, the Atlanta accountant Jack Fisher, was indicted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in connection with tax fraud worth $1.3 billion along with four other individuals

Fisher had bought the horse, a 15-year-old Holsteiner, for his daughter Christina. She pleaded with authorities to leave Lex, saying: “Take whatever you want that’s monetary, but you can’t treat a living animal like this.” 

“I feel violated and helpless,” Christina told Bloomberg. “I’m not a part of the case. I’m not a part of the business. I was completely caught off guard, and they took an innocent animal.” 

Bloomberg reported that federal agents soon realized it would cost between $45,000 to $50,000 a year to feed and care for Lex, excluding medical costs.

The horse’s value had dropped sharply, with an examination determining it to be worth $145,000, according to the report.

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The seizing of property, including horses and other livestock by the federal government or any law enforcement agency, pre-conviction is a gross abuse of power. Any such forfeiture should be post conviction. In the case of horses, livestock, or other animate creatures leaving them with their current owners or caretakers to preserve their value until a dispersal sale can be conducted to convert them into capital is the smartest thing our agencies can do. Otherwise you cost the taxpayer money for care and maintenance while inevitably devaluing the assets.

Adam Trenk, Rose Law Group partner and Director of Equine Law

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