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Press Stories 1980-2004
Horse trading is suspect in Erie County
Some suspected shady horse trading has state police in Erie looking to round up some assistance.
Police said Saturday they are looking for information relative to two horse transactions, and possibly others, involving Gregory Scott Havican of Summit Township. The 25-year-old has been accused by a Crawford County couple and a Millcreek Township woman of selling them horses much older, and in poorer shape, than promised.
According to police, Gerry and Gary Richardson of Springboro bought a horse that they were told was 11 years old and in good health. They learned later that the animal was at least 23 years old and in poor healthy.
Havican is also accused of selling Mary Walters a horse, at least 20 years old and in poor health. She thought it was eight and healthy. Police said Walters won a civil judgement after taking Havican to court, but Havican then allegedly forged Walters' name to a contract and attached it to his appeal filed at the Erie County Court House.
Havican faces theft by deception, forgery and tampering with records charges. Neither he, nor his alleged victims, could be reached for comment Saturday.
Police ask anyone with information to call Trooper Jay McKee at 814-871-4682 ext. 256 or 814- 898-1641.
Recent updates have placed the complaints at 35 !
Wonder if Mr. Havican has a permit to deal horses as required under the PA Domestic Animal Act ?
Summit Township man can't sell animals in PA anymore
By TIM HAHN
A Summit Township man accused of shady horse trading by numerous local clients can't sell animals in Pennsylvania anymore. Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher announced Friday that his Bureau of Consumer Protection reached a consent agreement with Gregory Havican, owner and operator of Havican Stables at 7671 Edinboro Road, that permanently bars him from doing business in the state.
It also orders Havican to pay 13 of his customers a total of $5,084 in restitution, $1,000 in civil penalties and $1,000 in investigation costs.
The agreement, Fisher said, resolves several alleged violations of Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law that occurred from 1996 through 1998.
Havican still faces a court date on charges filed by the Erie County District Attorney's office over complaints made by three alleged victims.
State Police in Lawrence Park reported last October that they were looking for information on two horse transactions, and possibly others, involving Havican. According to police, Gerry and Gary Richardson of Springboro bought a horse they were told was 11 years old and in good health but itwas later found to be at least 23 years old and in poor health.
Havican was also accused of selling Millcreek Township resident Mary Walters a horse at least 20 years old and in poor health, rather than eight years old and healthy.
Walters later won a civil judgment after taking Havican to court. But police said he then allegedly forged Walters' name to a contract and attached it to his appeal filed at the Erie County Court House.
A third victim, Shawn Dunlavy, filed a criminal complaint by the time Havican appeared in District Court inUnion City in late October for a preliminary hearing on theft by deception and forgery charges.
Dunlavy claimed he bought a mare and gelding from Havican Stables under the assumption they were 9 and 10 years old, respectively. A veterinarian later determined the mare was 25 and the gelding between 20 and 25.
Prior to the preliminary hearing an agreement was reached between the Erie County District Attorney's office and Havican for him to plead guilty to a combined theft by deception charge and the forgery charge. Each of the four theft by deception charges alone constituted a first-degree misdemeanor but, when combined and added to a total property value of more than $2,000, it became a third-degree felony. Prosecutors withdrew a tampering charge from Walters' case.
As part of the consent agreement, Havican must enter his pleas or face reinstatement of the original charges. He is scheduled for a plea hearing July 12 before Judge Stephanie Domitrovich in Erie County Court.
Trooper Jay McKee of the Pennsylvania State Police said his October inquiry for more information relative to Havican's horsetrading drew 40 to 50 additional complaints. Of those, he said Friday, 14 or 15 meet the elements of theft by deception.
Former horse trader sent to prison for bilking customers
By ED PALATTELLA
A former horse trader from Summit Township who dealt in "bargain-basement horses" failed to talk himself out of jail Tuesday.
Gregory S. Havican will spend the next seven to 23 1/2 months in Erie County Prison for selling three customers old and sickly horses that he held out as young and healthy.
Erie County Judge Stephanie Domitrovich sentenced Havican, who had pleaded no contest to the third-degree felonies of forgery and theft by deception.
Havican, 25, of the 7600 block of Edinboro Road, signed a consent decree in civil court in which he agreed to get out of horse trading and repay 13 victims a total of $7,400 through $200 monthly payments.
"What you did impacted the victims," Domitrovich said. "You have cheated, you have lied, and now we are holding you accountable."
Havican tried to persuade the judge to keep him out of prison. He and his lawyer said he was in training to become a manager at a local chain restaurant, and that he had to support his wife and child, with another child on the way. They said a job would enable Havican to repay the victims more quickly.
"I apologize. I made a mistake," said Havican, whose horse farm at 8425 Old French Road bore his name. "I am truly sorry."
Havican faced a maximum of 14 years in prison. His lack of prior record reduced the punishment considerably. Domitrovich's sentence was in the standard range.
She also fined Havican $400, ordered him to serve three years of probation and said he must perform 200 hours of community service. She made Havican eligible for work release after he serves four months in prison.
"He was an overly enthusiastic, aggressive horse dealer, if you will," Havican's lawyer, Kevin Kallenbach, said to the judge. He wanted Havican to serve only probation.
Kallenbach said Havican sold 50 to 75 horses a year. "These were not top-of-the-line horses," he said. "They were bargain-basement horses."
For the prosecution, the forgery count represented the main reason for the judge to jail Havican. State police accused Havican of presenting a forged contract as evidence to try to bolster his case in a civil dispute over a horse before District Justice James Dwyer of Waterford. The forgery led Trooper Jay McKee to investigate further and eventually to charge Havican in the cases of the three customers last year.
"It does show what kind of problem we have here," said Kenneth Zak, an assistant district attorney. He said "greed" described Havican.
Many of the customers were families who had purchased the horses for recreation. Instead of getting the fit animals Havican promised, Zak said, the customers' excitement changed to heartache when Havican sold them "severely defective horses." One animal, for example, suffered from arthritis and swelling in a foreleg.
"Some of these horses really should have been put down,"
Havican refused a refund of the arthritic horse, which prompted the customer to file the civil action at Dwyer's office. The police investigated along with the Attorney General Office's Bureau of Consumer Protection. As part of plea negotiations, Havican agreed to plead no contest to the three charges and answer to the other cases in civil court through the consent decree with the attorney general's office. The Erie County District Attorney's Office combined the facts from all three criminal cases into the two charges for which Havican was sentenced.
"There was a thread of deception from beginning to end," Zak said. "'Runaround' seemed to be his middle name."
One customer was in court Tuesday, but did not address the judge. Gary Richardson of Springboro, in an interview, said he and his wife, Gerry, had purchased what was supposed to be a healthy, friendly 11-year--old Palomino from Havican. They planned to ride the horse on trails. It turned out to be 23 years old, ill and unruly.
Richardson reached a settlement with Havican. He declined comment because of another pending personal-injury case against him over the horse. Domitrovich read a statement from the Richardsons in court.
"Mentally, the damage created by Havican's arrogance is beyond limit," it said. "We'll never get over it."
Zak said the other customers trusted Havican. He said many lacked a professional knowledge of horses.
"This is 1999, not 1899," Zak said. "We live in a different society."