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Ingrahams sentenced for animal cruelty

Published: 6/30/2011
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

Justice Roland Cole sentenced Brett and Alexis Ingraham to nine-months jail time, all but two days suspended, and three one-year terms of administrative release in Kennebec County Superior Court yesterday, June 29, 2011.
Under the terms, the Ingrahams are not allowed to care for or have contact with horses unless the horse owner and property owner  consent to unannounced visits by the Animal Welfare Program to monitor the condition of the horses.
The Ingrahams were also ordered to pay fines and $6,000 in restitution to the state. The amount is about 10 percent of the amount spent caring for the seized horses.

At the sentencing hearing, Cole told the audience of about 40 people that he had reviewed the extensive documentation from the state.
“I understand what appropriate care is. I own several horses. I breed horses. I fed five horses before leaving for this courtroom this morning,” he said.
He then heard Assistant District Attorney Paul Rucha who stated:

“It’s really about responsibility…the Ingrahams did not want to live up to their responsibilities…It’s not about leaving a bike out in the rain for it to get rusty. These horses paid a terrible price.”“It’s really about responsibility…the Ingrahams did not want to live up to their responsibilities…It’s not about leaving a bike out in the rain for it to get rusty. These horses paid a terrible price.”

Rucha introduced Travis French, a farrier who treated 12 of 15 horses after they were seized from the Ingrahams in June, 2010. French told the court:
“Never in my life have I seen horses with such extreme thrush in all four feet.”
Some horses were so weak and malnourished, they were unable to stand to be trimmed, French said.
Defense attorney David Van Dyke followed by introducing a parade of family and friends, including Alexis’ parents, sister, and Brett’s mother and grandmother.
All the family members stated they had never seen any form of abuse by Alexis or Brett.
Said her mother, Betty Pelletier: “She became an excellent rider…My daughter has unbelievable talents, God-given talents…We hoped she’d go to vet school.”
But, said Rucha:
“We gave them the benefit of the doubt,” referring to Animal Welfare’s multiple visits before seizing the horses and pressing charges last year. “They showed pretty outrageous behavior, pretty bad show of conduct.”

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6/30/2011 Daryl DeMoor
sounds like swift justice to me, so swift it passed right by with little to no effect, in 12 months they can be horse owners again with no supervision?
6/30/2011 Jody
Thank God she did not become a vet! What does the Ingrams family consider abuse?? Sounds like they have no understanding even now of what abuse is.
6/30/2011 Me
As i said in the last post about this "people" and i use the term loosly. i would save my woohoo's till i heard the sentancing ,, and here it is... a painless slap on the wrist !!! i sat and cried for a 1/2 hour to think they pretty much walk away scott free , i wouldnt have cared if they did no jail time , had to pay no fines or any money of any kind ,, what should have happened is they would never be allowed to own a horse , work with a horse , have any horses on poperty where they lived , be in any way shape or form be around horses , be allowed to haul horses , to be able to maek a living off these animals they have treated so poorly .. but no ,, they get away with this and life go's on as usual for them "no harm , no foul " sad as this is i STILL beleive what go's around comes around.. they may not pay for this now but they well some day !!!!! God bless the horses that was taken away they got a fighting chance ,, and god please watch over the ones they still have they are going to need it !!!
6/30/2011 Norma McQuarrie
I am hopeful to think that they would not ever again think of owning horses for its going to be pretty obvious now that these people will be watched and monitored often since now people know the horror of what they put those horses through.
6/30/2011 SimplyMe
"The amount is about 10 percent of the amount spent caring for the seized horses." HUH?? Bad enough they really didnt get "in trouble',, but at least they should have had to do is pay back the state for the horses care and all other expenses incurred because of what they did.
6/30/2011 Cowgirl 20
Does this mean she can not have contact with the horses at the farm in Burnham?
6/30/2011 Meris
JMO. The sentence was not all that I believe it should have been, but I am not impartial. I am an animal welfare advocate. Neutrality is the role assigned to the decision-maker and in this case, Justice Cole did what he believed was appropriate on the facts before him. That was his job and I thank him for doing it. Whether anyone else, including me, might have decided on a different sentence is moot in this case. I also am grateful for the work done at the DA's office and by the public / horse community members who clamored for action when the condition of the animals at FPF became more widely known. Thank you to the members of the press who publicized the situation and helped bring the necessary governmental attention to the plight of the animals. It was worth every bit of effort expended by everyone even remotely involved in this case ? and more. It will take more effort to make real change in the way Maines excellent animal welfare statutes are enforced, to insist that prosecution, conviction, and appropriate sentencing of those who abuse animals is a higher priority, and to expose inhumane conditions for animals where ever those exist. Join MEWA, contact and educate your local legislators, volunteer at an animal shelter, give your time, energy, and money (if you have any! lol) to efforts to improve animal welfare. There is no magic wand to wave and make it all perfect. The obstacle is the path and it is walked step by step. This case was a good step forward. And once in a while, take a moment to smile and celebrate the justice albeit modest - that was achieved for the animals who suffered and died at Fair Play Farm. Then, get back to work! : )
6/30/2011 StablePerson
The advertisements for lessons and board will not stop.If the family thought so highly of their daughter, then why didn't anyone step in and ask.."Do you need help?" "What can we do?" After the horror that was FPF, how can anyone call these people talented? I would and have gone w/o so my horses could have what they need.I hope word of mouth travels fast and that these two decide to GET JOBS not related to horses and for people to stop giving them $ for ANY kind of horse related business! They are listed in Uncle Henry's and in Burnham.I believe these horses deserve better justice....
6/30/2011 Lin
We see Alexis advertising on Uncle Henry's (web) to give riding lessons. Guess she kept a horse, OH yes, and put it in her mom's name. Those parents are as irresponsible as Alexis and her husband are. They are poor, Alexis and Brett are poor, neither one has a job. Get ready for round two...sick people get no help and repeat again, again and again. SAD
I'm sorry you guys but you have this whole situation all wrong..They simply got in over their heads.. They never ever purposely neglected any horses. But please don't leave any nasty comment after this i just want the truth to be heard and why i believe they are innocent... And the horse that the farrier was talking about was brought in the day I was there.. The horse was in terrible condition and they tried to save it but the horse was too long gone. Alexis stayed up all night just to try to save that horse... What you guys don't understand is that Alexis does have a magic touch with horses. She turned my supposed crazy nut-job arab into the most amazing horse. ...She told us send him to me. I can fix him. And you want to know something so amazing that you all are going to think is untrue and blah blah blah... She did fix him. I hope that at-least some of you have alittle different perspective of Alexis and Bret. If it makes you feel better you have all ruined her. Crushed her. She can never truly have a horse farm because of you. Imagine if you got in a rough spot and all of sudden you lose everything you ever loved. She can still go on with her business but everyone knows it's not going to be the same. I just hope and pray that some people who read this comment will change their perspective alittle bit and not be so rotten and childidh towards them. I gave them a horse who i didn't want and change him into everything i love. Please do not leave any nasty rude and unwanted comment about this because i'm only 14 years old and do not wish to be harrased because of this comment. Please do not tell me that I don't know what i saw or anything like that because i did if you do not like what i wrote than don't talk about pretend you never read it ... Thank- You :)
6/30/2011 Becky
I wish the punishment had been more, mostly to NEVER EVER be allowed to be near a horse in any way, shape or form! But it IS a step forward, maybe a baby step but that's where we all start, right!?!?!?! The WORST part of this is that they STILL believe they did NOTHING WRONG, that is the worst, scariest thing I can think of. You don't start screwing up 9 yrs ago with about 15 horses and continue to collect 70 or more til they are dropping like flies and say you did it all for the good of the horse, BARF!!!!! They both have 9 months hanging over their heads and they think they did nothing wrong so hopefully they will continue on this path and the remaining horses can be removed and they can be shut down forever then!!! I hope the horses remaining with them will be well supervised for their protection, but I don't believe AWP can afford to keep a close enough eye on them to keep them safe, but that is my opinion.
6/30/2011 Betty
It is about time people learned to take care of there animals.And if they dont they need to be punished.Animals look for us to love and care for them.
6/30/2011 Anne
I too feel that this whole mess swirled so far out of control from the start. I believe a witch hunt was in progress and hopefully will stop now. Witch hunting went out about 300 years ago. I do have one really big question for all of the concerned horse people out there......where was your help? Why did not some of you offer help, shelter, food, vet and farrier services, hay or just stop and say what can I do? Alexis and Brett have been hung out to dry and instead of asking or offering help you still want to vanish them to the ends of the earth. I think that their sentence was fair. I know they learned from this. I know they have changed a lot of their practices. The saying goes "you do the crime you pay the time". And they have paid and paid and paid. I lost my job 6 months ago and cannot find another. (Not horse related). I know what it is like to live day to day. So I have a suggestion for all of the nay-sayers, instead of skulking around or trying to find out something that is detremential, why not help? This situation was created by hate and a holier than thou attitude and the bible does say "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.". Thank you for allowing me my opinion.
7/1/2011 Anonymous
To those friends and family who have posted here, ya must have been hoodwinked by Brett and Alexis. Either that or you just weren't paying attention. Or you think that letting horses starve, be bullied, and freeze before being disposed of is OKAY. It ain't ok in my book. I seen what they did. You must not have.
7/1/2011 KDW
For those of you who are asking why people were not "Asking her if she needed help, offered services, feed, etc." The answer is, she WAS asked, MANY times if she needed help. She flat out refused! She was getting farrier service done for free because the person she had doing them, boarded his horses at her barn!!! Brett was seen/caught STEALING hay on more than one occasion, it got so bad that he was actually arrested for theft. Don't complain that WE put them through the ringer. They did it to themselves, "rescuing" and "rehabilitating" horses is not cheap. She should have stuck with what she knew...teaching riding lessons and training horses. AND the rent for the property they were on was NOT cheap, so they knew well ahead of time what they could and could'nt afford and still went beyond their means. No one should be blaming anyone but them for the things they have done. Myself and lots of my friends who personally know Alexis offered to help her with hay and vet bills. She always said no. SO WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THE CONDITION OF THOSE ANIMALS???? ALEXIS AND BRETT.
7/4/2011 Linda
As one person stated, this is not the perfect outcome, but it is a start. I would feel sorry for Brett and Alexis, but this has been going on for years. Again, I hope that Animal Welfare keeps and eye on the Burnam property.
7/5/2011 Jan
I, too, felt that they got off far too lightly. But, it is a start. As Meris stated "Justice Cole did what he believed was appropriate on the facts before him. That was his job and I thank him for doing it." Maine does have some very good animal welfare laws and it's going to take a huge effort to continue to have them enforced. Our AWP program is in a sad state of affairs currently .. for many reasons. IMO, it's the responsibility of the caring and responsible horse community to step up and help. Meris had several good suggestions of where your assistance could make a difference. And, regardless of where you stand with the slaughter issue, if Hemphill's closes .. watch out! It could open the door to another situation like FPF in no time!
Was this whole situation blown out of proportion? Yes and no. I truly believe that the Ingrahams had good intentions but once they started gaining momentum, they simply could not say "No" or turn down a 'good deal' on a horse that they thought they could turn a profit on. YES they did take in horses that nobody wanted, the problem is that they took on too many and didn't have the good sense to stop. And by time things started to spiral out of control it was too late... However... Once a few choice individuals started to play the role of vigilanties, that's where it began to get ugly. These people saw 'skinny' horses with no blankets or dirty blankets and automatically assumed that they had been that way since day one and that they needing saving. Yes, people were actually up in arms that some of the horses had dirty blankets on and that ::gasp:: they were standing in the snow- oh the horror! So they started snapping pictures of the horses and the alleged deplorable conditions that the horses were kept in... though not a single one of those individuals had stepped foot on that farm and actually spoke to the Ingrahams or asked them what was going on. They started on their own little crusade and were determined to right this terrible wrong... And then the harassment ensued. Other off the wall accusations and statements were being thrown around like nobody's business. Some people were even pathetic enough to state that they had no business having children and that the children ought to be watched very closely. All I have to say to those people is SHAME ON THEM! But do I hold the Ingraham's accountable for the condition of the horses, you bet your bottom dollar I do. There WAS help available, they only needed to ask and they choose not to and therefore the punishment that they were dealt for their action is the end result. They could've prevented this whole debacle from occuring if they had simply put their pride aside and just asked for help.
7/7/2011 Elaine
Well, here we go. The truth is really beginning to come out now. This is amazing. Some humility now? Yup, it appears the Ingraham's were over their heads. I agree this was a witchhunt and people's minds spoke out of turn. What should have, could have, is in the past and the Ingraham's took responsibility for their actions. I'm really ashamed of my fellow horse people who stretched the truth and began a crusade of gossip and untruths. Its called "what's right and what's wrong." I'm afraid now its time for those that witchhunted to take responsibility. The Attorney General's office was present during this sentencing. I believe they have been following this case and many changes have and will continue to take place at AW. I also believe that those that witchhunted need to have accountability. Will that happen? Don't know. Writing comments like "Brett was seen/caught STEALING hay on more than one occasion, it got so bad that he was actually arrested for theft." seems to me witchhunting when records show its not true. Enough is enough -- go home -- look at your own place -- is it up to code/standard, probably not.
7/18/2011 Julie
The punishment that the judge dished out IS NOT ENOUGH!! These beautiful creatures were put through hell,,inwhich they did not ask for, and DID NOT deserve!!! The punishment needs to fit the crime,,I'm so sick of people getting away with a slap on the wrist for committing such horrible acts against such wonderful creatures!!!! When is the law/judges/courts going to see that these wonderful creatures have a soul, they have feelings, that they put their trust into people, the human race and are being treated in such a horrible way! It's not just the people that do such a horrible thing to such beautiful creatures that make me sick,,but the damn courts/judges that give them such a light slap on the wrist,,when is there going to be equal justice for these beautiful souls!! When are people going to realize that the punishment that is dished out needs to be as extreme as the treatment that was dished out to such wonderful animals!!!! Anyone that hurts an animal or child in my book aren't worth the ground these beautiful souls walk on!!!
12/26/2013 Thankful
Let me update you...thank you for posting this article. The mother Betty must now be the buying agent for them as the Ingraham name is too known. She sent me 2/3 of the money for my horse to purchase but "couldn't" drive this far to see her. Thank God you guys had this info online and just saved the fate of my sweet,loving horse!
1/26/2016 ME
She's doing the same thing now! There are reports of 60+ horses on her property, most of which are in horrible condition again receiving less than adequate care. How is she able to do this all over again?

"It is the hardest pill for all of us would-be horsemen to swallow, but it is absolutely true - if the horse is not responding properly, we are doing something wrong" - Mary Twelveponies