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Pa. man accused of bilking horse owners

May 09, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An Orrstown, Pa., man was charged with representing himself as an animal cruelty officer and convincing people to sell their horses to avoid penalities for fictitious animal cruelty violations, officials said.

After a lengthy investigation into the case, John Anthony Johnson, 39, of 10723 Tim Road, was charged last week with impersonating a public servant, theft by deception and receiving stolen property, officials said.

Johnson was arraigned before District Justice Larry Meminger and was later released on $10,000 bond, officials said.

Officials said Kraig and Karen Penn of Fayettville were convinced to sell two horses for $500, much less than their estimated value of $1,600, according to Pennsylvania State Police and Georgia Martin of the Humane Society in Franklin County, Pa.

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Martin said she believes the horses were later resold for a profit.

Other horse owners may have been victimized, she said.

Martin said horse owners can be easily tricked into thinking their horses are in poor condition if they are not knowledgeable about the animals. A rib showing in a horse may look bad, but in some horses it is normal, Martin said.

Martin said she began looking into the case four months ago when horse owners alerted her about a possible scheme. She said it took her three months to find the Penns and begin collecting information in the case.

The Penns could not be reached for comment.

Martin said if other horse owners are approached by a person proclaiming to be an animal cruelty officer and they are suspicious about the situation, they can ask to see the person's official identification, Martin said.

There are only two Humane Society police officers in Franklin County, and both of them carry identification, said Martin. Besides Martin, the other Humane Society Police officer in the county is Dennis Bumbaugh, Martin said.

Horse owners also can contact her or the state police if they believe they are faced with a suspicious situation.

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