California Horse Dealer Sentenced

A California woman who pleaded guilty to misrepresenting horses she offered for sale on equine-related websites will serve 41 months in prison and pay $273,000 in restitution to 88 people who responded to her horse sales advertisements.

Last year federal authorities accused Trina Lee Kenney of Wrightwood, Calif., of making false claims about the breed, registration status, health, abilities, and temperaments of horses she offered for sale on equine-focused websites including,,,, and between November 2004 and June 2008.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph N. Akrotirianakis said that in one case Kenney allegedly claimed a horse was safe for a child or a timid rider. In another she had painted other horses to the color of horse she advertised. In some cases buyers never received the horses they purchased.

Kenney's activities came to light after some dissatisfied customers filed complaints with the FBI's Internet crimes division. During an investigation Kenney attempted to sell a nonresistant Friesian mare to an undercover FBI agent and a U.S. Postal Inspector. After receiving $5,000 in payments for the mare, she did not respond to their email and other inquiries about the transaction.

Kenney later pleaded guilty to mail fraud, specifically admitting that she defrauded prospective horse purchasers in 23 states and Canada.

According to a written statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office of Central California, when she pleaded guilty Kenney admitted she had drugged horses to make them appear docile and that she had painted at least two horses to make them appear black, rather than their natural brown color. Kenney further acknowledged that various horses she had delivered were starved, covered in sores and cuts, had hooves that had been untrimmed so the horses were unable to walk, or were suffering from strangles, a severely contagious equine respiratory disease, the statement said.

United States District Judge A. Howard Matz handed down Kenney's sentence on April 14. Kenney's attorney, Joseph Shemaria, was unavailable for comment.

U.S. District Court Spokesman Thom Mrozek said where Kenney will serve her sentence will be determined later.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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