LEWISTON — A Clinton woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor charges in connection with her alleged mistreatment of horses.
Alexis Ingraham, 25, was charged in 8th District Court with two counts of unlawful sale, consignment or rental of a diseased horse in March. One of the horses was named “Frisky,” a judge told her. The other horse was named “Lucky.”
Ingraham told the judge she never sold a horse named “Frisky.”
Each count is punishable by up to six months in jail. A trial was scheduled for June.
Police said that on or about March 21 in Livermore, Ingraham offered to sell or sold or rented horses, which, “by reasons of debility, disease or lameness … could not be worked” in Maine without violating the state’s laws of cruelty to animals.
After the hearing, Ingraham said she intended to fight the charges.
“I think these charges are bogus,” she said.
She said her business, Fair Play Farm & Stables, had sold several horses to the people who apparently complained.
“We never had any complaints from them directly,” she said.
She said some disgruntled people are looking for a scapegoat.
“I think it’s a funny vendetta that seems to be surrounding me,” she said.
Looking on in the courtroom were two women who said they are part of a watchdog group “working very hard to address equine abuse in the state of Maine.” They declined to be identified, saying they were concerned about being harassed for their actions.
After the hearing, they told reporters they alerted the state about the two horses in the case after hearing about their conditions. Pictures of the animals were what sparked their interest, they said.
Norma Worley, director of Animal Welfare at the Maine Department of Agriculture, confirmed Wednesday that the state was tipped off about the two horses, whose sale took place in Androscoggin County. She said Ingraham was being investigated for similar issues in Kennebec County, but no charges had been filed by the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office.
The two women in court said they find out about possible abuse cases by word of mouth, then carry out their own investigations before alerting authorities. They said they had been looking into Ingraham’s activities since 2002. One of the women called the local charges “the tip of the iceberg.”
According to news reports, Ingraham and her husband, Brett, run the farm where they buy and sell horses. They also board horses for others and offer riding lessons.
A story in the Bangor Daily News said the Ingrahams are willing to take horses in any condition, which could explain why it might appear that some of the horses are not healthy.