NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A plea deal is in the works for a slaughter-horse hauler that could include no prison time and a fine of less than $25,000. Dorian Ayache is the owner of Three Angels Farm in Lebanon, a trucking company whose rickety trailers wrecked on the interstate twice in 2012, endangering drivers and causing several injured horses to be euthanized.
Ayache was facing 26 years in prison for violating a U.S. Department of Transportation order to shut down after inspectors found numerous safety violations.
Tuesday, Ayache entered a guilty plea in federal court. If it's accepted, all the charges against him will be dropped except one: failing to maintain a current driver's log. The maximum fine he faces is $25,000. Ayache would serve six months in prison at most, but he could end up serving no time at all.
"I think it's a pretty trivial sentence," said Leighann Lassiter, the Tennessee director of the United States Humane Society.
"This violation, number one, resulted in endangering thousands of people on the road, but also contributed to the suffering of thousands of animals who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in his care," Lassiter added.
Ayache was transporting horses to the Mexican border, where they were to be slaughtered for human food that is sent overseas.
The federal government criminally charged Ayache with continuing to operate an unsafe trucking operation after being ordered to shut down. The Department of Transportation found Three Angels Farm's equipment in disrepair and its drivers' logbooks inaccurate.
Scott York was driving the Three Angels trailer that broke in half on I-440 in 2012. He told Channel 4 that Ayache ordered drivers to stay on the road for longer than the law allows.
"He taught me how to fudge a log book," York told Channel 4 in 2012. During that time, York said, the horses were not given water, food or rest. And if the horses went down, he said, they were given electric shocks. "He makes you cattle-prod them up," York told Channel 4.
After the government shut down Three Angels Farm, Ayache hauled horses under a different company's name, Terri's Farm. Its owner, Theresa Vincent, is being offered the same plea deal of zero to six months in prison and a fine of less than $25,000.
The sentences aren't set in stone. The plea agreements have to be approved by a federal judge. Sentencing is set for Nov. 21.
Source: WSMV by Nancy Amons