California Owner Charged With Theft in Sale of Horse

California Thoroughbred owner and breeder Michael Power is charged with one felony count of theft in connection with the sale of a horse that his accuser claims was never delivered.

Power, of Auburn, has pleaded not guilty to the charge. His attorney, Tim Woodall, said he is "confident that (Power) will be exonerated."

A settlement conference in Placer County Superior Court is scheduled for Oct. 27. The alleged victim, Dr. Nelson Vetranze of Aurora, Colo., contends in a complaint that Power "sold him a horse that he didn't own." He claims Power also refused to return the $6,250 he wired the defendant.

However, Woodall said that Power offered to "sell a share of the horse" to Dr. Vetranze.

"Mr. Power subsequently found that the horse had some serious defects, serious enough that he decided not to purchase the horse."

Because Power believed Dr. Vetranze owed him $25,000 on the purchase of two other horses, Power decided to apply the money toward those buys, Woodall said.

Collette Jilot, the deputy district attorney handling the case, refused to elaborate on the specifics. She said she is determining whether to pursue the theft charge "as an allegation of embezzlement or one of false pretenses."

If found gulity, Power could be sentenced to a year in county jail or up to three years in state prison.

Power owns the popular California stallion Siberian Summer, whom he relocated for 2003 to Creston Farms in Paso Robles after a dispute with Special T Thoroughbreds of Temecula. The farm planned to auction Siberian Summer and 13 other horses Power kept there for nonpayment of expenses more than a year ago, but the sale was canceled beforehand when an agreement was reached. Siberian Summer was subsequently transferred to Creston.