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Wrightwood woman who drugged, painted horses as part of sales scam sentenced

April 14, 2011 | 11:24 am

A San Bernardino County woman was sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay $273,000 in restitution for defrauding people who sought to buy horses from her.

Trina Lee Kenney, 32, of Wrightwood, painted horses to make them a different color and drugged the animals to make them appear more docile, prosecutors said.

Sometimes she did not provide a horse to buyers at all, and those under her care were frequently not watered or fed, a former employee told investigators.

Kenney “broke their hearts and stole their money,” said U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz, referring to the buyers, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Matz sentenced Kenney on Wednesday, ordering her to pay the restitution to 88 victims.

Kenney had pleaded guilty in October to mail fraud, “admitting that she defrauded prospective horse purchasers in 23 states and Canada,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Kenney advertised on various Internet sites under several names -- in part to evade a trail of customer complaints, prosecutors said. Her businesses included Prestige Distribution, Horses and Ponies and Star Horses.

Kenney lied about the health and temperament of her horses, as well as their physical characteristics and pedigrees. She sometimes delivered a different horse than promised or none at all. She also claimed a money-back guarantee that she did not honor.

Working under cover, an FBI agent and a postal inspector paid for a Friesian mare named Azure, whose existence Kenney had apparently fabricated. The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation.

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-- Howard Blume

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