Louisville Field Office
Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation
Date: IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 14, 2003)
Tere Mynatt, Public Information Officer
Internal Revenue Service Criminal
600 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Place, Room 610
Louisville, KY 40202
502 572 2133
CI Release #: 61-2003-02
When Special Agent Dan Pieschel of the Criminal Investigations Unit of the IRS was faced with seized proceeds from a drug dealer’s operations, he quickly realized that many of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets came on four legs. Agent Pieschel stated that the IRS usually does not seize anything that eats. However, with the leaders of the ring behind bars, the horses, mules, and cattle were faced with deprivation and neglect. Usually the only victim in a criminal case brought by the IRS is the U.S. government. However, these defendants from a small town in central Kentucky used the proceeds from their illegal drug business to purchase and raise over 150 registered Tennessee Walkers, Percheron Drafts, Belgian Draft horses and mules. By the time the defendants admitted their guilt and agreed to give their livestock to the IRS, the new owners (IRS) discovered they had live victims that needed immediate attention.
The IRS-Criminal Investigation Louisville, Kentucky Field Office, took custody of more than 150 horses and mules after the owners, Larry Gene Thompson and Josh McClure were arrested and charged with crimes related to a major drug trafficking operation. The defendants, who were unable to care for the animals after their arrests, turned them over to IRS-Criminal Investigation agents who began the arduous, 2-month task of bringing the horses and mules back to good health. One mare had already given birth to a healthy mule, and more foals were on the way! Agent Pieschel (who admits to being allergic to anything with fur) was committed to the daunting task of developing a plan to market and sell the animals. The United States Department of Treasury contracts with EG&G Technical Services to manage custody, storage and disposal of Treasury’s seized property. EG&G immediately contracted to have the animals moved and maintained on other farms. IRS needed to sell them as soon as possible to protect the animals and the governments interest.
“These horses, even the registered, purebred show horses, need a second chance,” said Fred Borakove, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Louisville Field Office. “While some of the horses were still being maintained, many more were not properly cared for after the defendants were arrested. Our agency is following an agreement that allows us to provide these animals with appropriate food and care, and bring them to auction to protect the interest of the United States Treasury.”
Pieschel has had extensive experience in handling assets such as real property, automobiles, boats and the like but livestock was a new challenge for a man raised in the confines of the city. Pieschel discovered that over 150 horses come with far more problems than feeding them. First he dealt with a public concern by the Humane Society that the animals were not being properly cared for by the government. EG&G Services immediately hired a local veterinarian to verify the condition and care of the horses. “I oversaw all of the medical care of these animals from the day the IRS-Criminal Investigation took custody,” said Dr. Ted Cundiff, DVM from Richmond, KY. “The agency took all the appropriate steps to make sure these horses were healthy and fit for auction.” The horses were primarily mares, many of which were pregnant and ready to foal.
The traditional way of selling seized assets is at public auction. Pieschel was unaware, but educated by alarmed horse lovers, that if these types of horses are sold at public auction they are sometimes slaughtered and their meat and hides sold. Pieschel stated “this has been an eye opener for me, I never knew all the uses for horse meat”. To satisfy this concern Pieschel reached an agreement with Lynda Welch of the non-profit United Equine Foundation (UEF) that any horse that did not bring enough to cover IRS’s expenses would be sold to UEF, which would find homes for the animals. Welch started getting the word out to animal rescue organizations that the animals were available. Welch and her husband operate Bailey’s Norwegian Fjords of White Cloud, Michigan, as well as watch out for the well being of all horses. They were prepared to take a few of the animals themselves but only ended up having to take a newborn mule. This mule will eventually be used in a therapeutic program to assist physically handicapped and mentally impaired children.
Sue Cochran, farm manager of The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation wanted a Belgian mare for the non-profit living museum located in the Ridley Creek State Park in Media, PA. Pieschel referred her to Welch to arrange acquisition of the animals the UEF may purchase. Cochrane was able to acquire the horse that will be the source of enjoyment for the 12,000 children who visit the Colonial Plantation annually. Cochrane was so happy to be able to acquire this horse on the museum’s very tight budget that she drove eleven hours one way to pick up the horse to save transportation costs. They were so thrilled with the IRS cooperation that the horse was named “IRiS”.
The Last Refuge, an equine sanctuary in Hitchcock, Texas purchased two mule babies from the IRS. Dr. Cundiff provided health certificates free of charge for the babies. The auction manager, Jim Dause, joined in the benevolent aura that was surrounding the sale of these once prized horses and found transportation for two young mules to Texas. Dause knew a goat transporter that had room on a load going to Texas. Leonard Arlington transported the baby mules to Lometa, Texas. Jerry Finch from Habitat For Horses and Carol Chapman from The Last Refuge made the 750 mile round trip from Hitchcock to Lometa to bring the babies home. “When the babies first arrived they were very skittish, had not been handled much and understandably missed their mothers” said Carol Chapman. “However an elderly mare we have has taken them under her wing and they are doing fine here”. The mare, a thirty- year old palomino, has taken her new duties as babysitter very seriously and does not seem to hold the babies’ long ears against them. “The IRS went above and beyond to save these babies when their mothers were starving. In honor of that I have named the older baby “Dan-A-Mule” after the agent that saved them.”