Back in 2013 there was a lot of news coverage when the FBI raided Another Chance for Horses (AC4H), a rescue that had been associated with some less-than-above-board business practices (it is being investigated for conspiracy and wire fraud) . It’s taken awhile, but the investigation is plugging along.
The organization as a charity expired in November, 2012 but as late as September 2014, AC4H was still soliciting charitable donations. The IRS revoked AC4H’s tax exempt status in May 2014.
Now, court documents show that AC4H continued to solicit charitable contributions after that date — and equally troubling that the founders of the charity, Christy and Rick Sheidy, transferred funds from the AC4H bank account to their personal accounts and used the money to purchase a Florida time-share and pay their mortgage. The court documents, say, in part:
In this case, Respondents clearly betrayed the trust and confidence of donors who believed they were contributing to the stated purpose of the Organization, but, in actuality, were funding Respondents’ private interests.
At this time, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has ordered AC4H to stop soliciting contributions, imposed a $5,000 fine, and banned the organization from applying for registration as a charitable organization for two years and only after it pays the fine.
This is a surprisingly mild slap on the wrist for an organization that recorded revenues in 2013 of more than $630,000 per year (who knew running a rescue could be so profitable). However, it is not out of the question that this is only the first shoe dropping; the FBI has yet to file charges.
There are still many people who support the good things that AC4H did . . . my guess is that in the beginning they did save horses from slaughter. My theory is that over time, the appeal of hyped up, “this horse will be on the truck tomorrow” hysteria became too profitable and too tempting. AC4H developed an on-going relationship with kill buyer Brian Moore (all the “broker” owned horses on their site). Since Moore was still shipping full trailer loads to slaughter (reportedly twice a week) and given that the horses featured on the site were the least likely to be accepted by slaughter houses (grays, minis, emaciated horses — shipping records of Moore’s document that horses/ponies of this description were not included), it makes me wonder how many horses were actually saved. Instead, unsuitable horses were “rescued” for prices up to 10x what Moore paid for them at auction and other horses continued to be shipped to slaughter.
There will likely be more about AC4H in the media — there are reports of funds being raised for horses not at their site, funds being raised for horses that actually were shipped, double rescues, horses that arrived with their markings painted on to better resemble the horse that was bailed out . . .
I suppose it’s good they saved some horses, but I think the damage they did to the industry by cheating donors who wanted to help reduce the number of horses going to slaughter, is incalculable. What a shame that money was diverted into the Sheidy’s (and Moore’s) pocket when it could have gone to rescues that are staffed by volunteers (like CANTERUSA.org) or more reputable organizations like NewVocations.org.
I’m still waiting to hear the other shoe drop.