Thoroughbred Owners' Trial Delayed

By Jack Shinar

The trial date for two Northern California Thoroughbred owners accused of embezzling $12.7 million from Bank of America has been delayed until June 3.

Michelle Serrao, 41, and Bryan Rosenquist, 39, are each free on $3 million bail pending the trial, which is in U.S. District Court in Oakland, according to attorney Harold Rosenthal, who represents Rosenquist.

The trial was slated to begin March 4, but federal Judge Claudia Wilken granted the continuance, Rosenthal said, to allow both sides more time to prepare.

"There is just a tremendous amount of paper to go through," he said. "A very complicated case."

Serrao and Rosenquist raced horses under their own names and as Bella Thoroughbreds, their ranch located in Vallejo, CA. They are accused of stealing automated teller funds from the Bank of America by using their positions in security with transport specialist Loomis, Fargo & Co. They allegedly took 635,000 $20 bills, a total of $12.7 million, between January of 2000 and their arrests last Sept. 26 in one of the largest vault thefts in California history.

Since their arrests, a court-appointed receiver has overseen the ranch operation, including the dispersal of much of its racing and breeding stock.

At the Barretts January mixed sale in Southern California earlier this year, a 48-Thoroughbred consignment from Bella brought $336,000, an average price of $7,000.