Released by Texas Attorney General's Office:
LINDEN, TX – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today reached an agreement with a Cass County horse seller that misrepresented the nature and health of its animals.
Under the agreed final judgment, the defendant must pay restitution to customers who purchased sick or unhealthy animals. The agreement also prohibits the defendant from continuing to engage in the horse business.
Today's resolution stems from the State's 2009 investigation and enforcement action against E-Tex Equine Co. and its owner, Patricia Wilson. State investigators found the defendant unlawfully sold horses that were blind, injured, sick and lacked up-to-date documentation proving that individual animals had been tested for infectious disease.
Wilson conducted business with customers in several states without disclosing the animals' true health conditions.
The agreed final judgment and permanent injunction requires Wilson to restore $65,300 to customers who were misled about the animals and her services. Wilson must also pay $10,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 in state attorneys' fees under the judgment.
According to investigators with the Attorney General's Office and the Texas Animal Health Commission, the defendants routinely posted advertisements on websites where horses were commonly marketed and sold.
State investigators learned that Wilson falsely claimed that her animals were healthy, gentle, trained for riding, and suitable for children.
In fact, Wilson's customers actually received animals that were blind, scarred, underweight, barely trained and otherwise materially different from the horse they intended to purchase.
State investigators also learned that Wilson attempted to conceal her identity by relying on numerous aliases – including the names of actual people she knew such as Valerie Wilson, Patricia Ferraris, Trish Wilson, Patricia Gumm, Molly Duck, Tanja Hamilton and D. Murphy.
The State's enforcement action indicates that the defendant employed multiple names and used proper names of ranches in an effort to convince customers that they were dealing with several equine professionals rather than a single seller.
Wilson also improperly claimed that her horses were acquired from childrens' camps. In fact, she purchased the animals from horse auctions solely for the purpose of reselling them.
According to State investigators, Wilson falsely claimed that her horses had been subjected to infectious anemia tests – which are also known as Coggins tests – and possessed the correct papers verifying the veterinary test results for specific animals.
Many customers were given results for Coggins tests that were performed on different animals. That is, the Coggins documentation provided to Wilson's customers did not actually match the age, gender, or hide markings associated with the horses they purchased.
The State's enforcement action charged E-Tex Equine and co-defendant E-Tex Interior Solutions, LLC with common law fraud and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act violations, including the sellers' failure to sell the horses they described in their advertisements.