Farm Worker Settles in Horse Poisoning Accusation Case

A woman who worked at an equestrian facility in College Station, Texas, where 27 horses died last year settled a lawsuit she filed against the stable's owner, who had accused her of poisoning the animals.

Marina Salazar, who worked at Carousel Acres Equestrian Center for eight years, accepted an undisclosed payment and a public apology from her former boss.

According to the lawsuit, Salazar was fired shortly after the horses died in July 2006. The stable's owner, Bradley Raphel, later told investigators and the stable's boarders that he thought Salazar had poisoned the horses.

After a six-month investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Raphel was fined $4,000 for offenses relating to the misuse of pesticides he used to kill weevils in the horses' feed. Officials determined the 27 horses died from ingesting the pesticide in their feed.

Walter Cronin, who was a friend of Raphel's, was fined $1,000 for failing to properly supervise the use of a restricted-use pesticide.

"I do not believe that you were responsible for the deaths of the horses," Raphel wrote in a letter to Salazar. "Please consider this my public apology for any shame, embarrassment or humiliation we have caused you, your family and your professional reputation in the Peruvian Paso Horse industry."

Salazar is originally from Peru and has worked in the horse industry for 22 years.

Raphel declined to comment on the settlement.

Salazar, who said she has been unable to find a job since leaving the stable, said the letter didn't make up for what she had been through.

"It was very stressful. I was confused, angry and sad every day," said Salazar. "This letter doesn't make up for how much I suffered, but on the other side, I'm happy because I had the chance to face (Raphel). But now I want to start living my life again."

The Brazos County District Attorney's Office is reviewing the Carousel Acres case to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to bring it before a grand jury, said Assistant District Attorney Shane Phelps.

For more information on the poisonings, click here.

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The Associated Press

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