Death of Alydar Could Influence Judge

A federal prosecutor wants a Houston judge to punish J.T. Lundy for executing a plan to kill Alydar for insurance money. The death of Calumet Farm's star stallion was not an issue during Lundy's February trial on fraud and conspiracy charges, but lead prosecutor Julia Hyman Tomala wants Alydar's death influencing the sentencing. Lundy, president of Calumet from 1982-1991, was convicted Feb. 7 for defrauding First City National Bank of Houston out of $65 million in loans through bribery and deceit. Gary Matthews, Calumet's former chief financial officer, also was tried and convicted at the same time.

Before Lundy and Matthews are sentenced, prosecutors and defense attorneys have an opportunity to persuade the judge to be harder or more lenient with the punishment. Tomala committed most of her 50-page sentencing memorandum for U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake to arguing that Lundy should be held accountable for Alydar's death.

“Circumstantial evidence establishes that Lundy caused the most valuable asset comprising collateral for the loan to be destroyed so that approximately $20,000,000 could be paid to the bank,” the memorandum states. “According to First City officers, had Alydar lived beyond February 1991, First City likely would have foreclosed and taken everything, including Alydar.”

Alydar was found in his stall the night of Nov. 13, 1990, with a broken right rear cannon bone. Veterinarians put the injured leg in a cast, but the stallion re-injured himself in a fall two days later and had to be euthanized.

David McGee, Lundy's attorney, said what Tomala is doing is simply wrong.

“They want to punish him for things they have not tried him for,” McGee said. “They've already tried to get an indictment for this and failed. I think it is wrong to sentence a man on something you cannot even get an indictment for.”

McGee said he has until Sept. 19 to file a response to Tomala's memorandum. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19 in Houston.

Tomala was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Powers, who helped argue the government's case in February, also could not be reached Wednesday because he was in depositions all day.

A crucial piece of the federal government's circumstantial evidence is an analysis done by George Pratt Jr., Ph.D., a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pratt has done equine biomechanical research for the Grayson Research Foundation and the Jockey Club. For this case, Pratt studied whether Alydar's fatal injury could have been caused by kicking his stall door. Lundy and others claim Alydar kicked the door hard enough to shear off a bracket at the door's base, then the stallion got his leg caught in a gap created between the door and the wall.

Pratt concluded that Alydar would have had to jump 12 feet in the air to produce enough force to shear off the bolts holding the bracket. Instead, Pratt said in a Feb. 13, 1999, letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he believes Alydar's leg was broken in the stall and the scene staged to look like an accident.