Justice in Kentucky is Slippery

Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on October 27, 2008

Just like doctors, lawyers, accountants and architects, Thoroughbred horse trainers have to be licensed to practice their profession. The licensing agency in Kentucky, is the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC). When licensed Thoroughbred horse trainer Joseph D. “J.D.” Crescini pleaded guilty to 16 counts of animal cruelty in Nelson County Circuit Court (for conduct that resulted in the deaths of two horses and the profound suffering of 12 other horses) this fall, I fully expected Mr. Crescini’s days as a licensed Thoroughbred trainer to be over, permanently. So, I did a bit of research before I wrote to the KHRC encouraging them to approve the maximum sanction. I was disappointed to learn that KHRC lacks the authority to permanently revoke a trainer’s license. Rather, the maximum duration of a revocation the KHRC can impose is five years. 810 KAR 1:28. That needs to be changed for future cases.

However, in the meantime, Mr. Crescini had his administrative hearing and the KHRC Stewards found Mr. Crescini in violation of 810 KAR 1:008 (breach of obligation to provide proper care) and 810 KAR 1:025(3)(15& 19) (animal cruelty & acting in a manner inconsistent with the best interests of horse racing).Their sanction: a two-year revocation of his license to train Thoroughbred horses. Wow, that’s a very generous outcome, to say the least.  Is Mr. Crescini satisfied? Apparently not, because he’s served notice of his intent to appeal to the full commission.

Given the degree of suffering, the number of animals involved and the aggravated nature of these violations, to say nothing of the obvious breach of his duties as a licensed trainer, the maximum revocation term is more than warranted, even if it is only five years. As the court noted in Deaton v. KHRA, 172 SW 3rd 803 (2005), the KHRA has great latitude in setting sanctions.

It’s one thing for a trainer to be held strictly liable for an owner drugging a racehorse, where a 150-day suspension was upheld (as was the case in Deaton), but it is quite another for a licensed Thoroughbred trainer to kill two horses by starvation, while another 12 horses suffered profound neglect that is tantamount to torture via neglect by starvation. Additionally, one would hope that the full commission would opt to not allow Mr. Crescini to buy his way out of a revocation under 810 KAR 1:28(9) (authorizing a $5,000 fine in lieu of a suspension or revocation).

Say what you will about the status of the animal protection laws of Kentucky, but the legislative policy statement codified in KRS § 230.215 is unambiguous–the KHRC possesses not just the discretion, but the duty to “exclude undesirables” from this industry. Based on his admitted conduct, Mr. Crescini is one such undesirable who has no place in this industry.

Here’s hoping that the full commission agrees.


2 thoughts on “Justice in Kentucky is Slippery

  1. This is not surprising, although depressing.

    Equally bad, if not worse:

    There are abusive veterinarians all over this country, who continue to practice in spite of animal cruelty convictions. For example, Dr. Sean Saltsburg, convicted in Pennsylvania of animal cruelty for beating a patient (horse) so badly, the animal was blinded. He has just been given back license to practice in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

    Crazy? Get this — in 26 statues, you can’t even file animal cruelty charges against a vet for ANYTHING he does while practicing. An entire room full of people with cameras can film a vet beating a patient in these states, but vets are EXEMPT from prosecution under animal cruelty laws for anything they do while practicing in those 26 states. Just take a look at http://www.sheridantruth.com, about Thomas Sheridan. Animal cruelty charges were filed against this man, but thrown out by the magistrate because as a veterinarian, Sheridan is immune.

    You can thank the Veterinary Lobby (aka, VETERINARY MAFIA) for that. What animal lovers they are! NOT!

    For more information on the truth about vets, visit http://badvetdaily.blogspot.com and http://www.vetabusenetwork.com, http://www.TheTooncesProject.com

  2. gypsyrose says:

    I have personal knowledge of Dr Saltsburg and the main complainant in his case. He was being blackmailed, and apparently it succeeded. Dr Saltsburg was my veterinarian for years, and I would call him again in a minute if he hadn’t been forced to leave the state because of the bad publicity. The only reason he took a plea bargain was because he has a family and couldn’t risk a severe sentence by a judge who knew nothing about horses. The vast majority of Dr Saltsburg’s clients supported him at his preliminary hearing. His vocal opponents were people who only knew what they read in the paper.