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Woman arrested for defrauding people donating to rescue horses from slaughter

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Catherine M. Petersen, 54, appeared in the Park County Circuit Court, Wyo. on Wednesday and was formally charged with two counts of obtaining $1,000 worth of property by false pretenses and felony forgery according to the powelltribune.com.

Wyoming authorities, acting on a warrant, traveled to Kentucky on Monday to arrest Petersen, who had recently been granted parole which stemmed from an unrelated case where she had been incarcerated for the misuse of employer's funds. Petersen had used the law firm's charge accounts, where she worked at the time, to buy a computer, software, saddles, and a camera.

After serving nearly five years in prison, Petersen was paroled. The Park County case dates back to 2007 when a popular horse rescue online community called "The Fans of Barbaro" raised money for what they thought were to save 30 horses from a livestock auction that were alleged to be slaughter bound.

Petersen had promised to rescue the horses and then to keep them on her ranch, Fair Dinkum Farm and Equine Rescue. Authorities now believe Petersen never rescued the horses nor did she even have the facility. Additionally, Petersen raised money for a rescue horse's eye surgery, eventually telling the people who donated, that the operation had been a success.

The woman who later adopted the blind horse named Snickers, grew suspicious of the horse ever having had the operation and called the veterinarian hospital to discover the surgery to the horse had never been done; from there the investigation into Petersen began in 2009.

Petersen is now being held in the Park County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bond. The next hearing is scheduled for July 18.

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