Montana Rancher Sentenced in Horse Cruelty Case

A Montana rancher, whose herd of allegedly maltreated horses were confiscated by Yellowstone County law enforcement authorities last year, has been sentenced to serve jail time and pay fines in connection with the case.

In 2011, Yellowstone County prosecutors charged rancher James H. Leachman with multiple counts of misdemeanor cruelty in connection with a heard of approximately 800 horses residing on land owned by the Crow Tribe. Authorities previously told that five of the animals connected to the case died due to their condition. The surviving horses were placed in new homes, and Leachman pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Earlier this month, a jury found Leachman guilty on five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Brandi Granzella, criminal cases clerk for the Yellowstone County Justice Court, said that on Dec. 12, a Yellowstone County Justice Court judge sentenced Leachman to pay $5,000 in fines and to serve five consecutive years in jail. All but 120 days of the jail sentence was suspended, she said.

Following the sentencing, Leachman filed an appeal in the case, then posted a $5,000 appeal bond, Granzella said.

"With the bond his sentence is stayed until a decision is rendered from District Court," Granzella said.

Leachman was unavailable for comment.

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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