Orange Co. animal abuse probe looks into owner’s finances

WASHINGTON – An animal abuse investigation involving dozens of starving horses at a Virginia farm is expanding into the owner’s finances.

“We anticipate there will be additional charges,” Orange County Commonwealth’s Attorney Diana Wheeler tells CBS 19 in Charlottesville. “We’ve just begun the financial investigation, so I don’t really have a timeline on that. But we do expect there to be other charges.”

Anne Shumate currently is jailed on 27 counts of animal cruelty.

Wheeler tells WTOP, in addition to new charges related to Shumate’s financial dealings, Shumate likely will face additional charges related to the animals as investigators continue to review copious amounts of medical information.

When investigators executed a search warrant at Shumate’s Peaceable Farm in Somerset, Virginia, last month, the dead animals they found included six horses, a donkey, cats, dogs and chickens. As many as nine horses were subsequently determined to be so close to death they had to be euthanized.

Shumate’s attorney Thomas Purcell has said Shumate was doing everything she could to take care of the animals. But that she’d recently divorced her husband, who helped fund the farm, and was trying to take care of the animals with little financial or staff help.

Court documents obtained by CBS 19 show that Shumate was awarded $48,000 a month in alimony in the four months prior to her October arrest. According to the divorce settlement, Shumate’s ex-husband pledged to pay her more than $900,000 in total and to help pay down the mortgage on the Glen Valley farm in Somerset, Virginia.

The attorney for Anthony Goland, Shumate’s ex-husband, is confident Shumate has been receiving the money because he hasn’t heard otherwise.

“There is no question I would have heard from her attorney or from her directly” if the payments had been absent or late, says attorney Joseph Condo.

Before the marriage of Goland and Shumate was dissolved in July, they ran a tax exempt charity together to care for retired race horses.

“To save (the horses) from being euthanized and being sent off to a glue factory or a pet food factory,” Condo says.

Condo says Goland has not been on the farm property since at least the summer of 2014. Shumate managed the horse rescue while Goland acted as the fundraiser.

“He helped raise money for the entire operation. Part of which was the care – feeding of the horses.” Condo says.

The divorce settlement also transferred to Goland sole ownership of a Montgomery County farm in Dickerson, Maryland, where Shumate was allowed to continue board horses, according to the divorce documents.

Montgomery County Animal Services cited Shumate last summer for lack of sanitary conditions and not providing her animals sufficient water on the farm at 17601 Whites Store Road.

The next court date related to Peaceable Farm in Orange County and its practices will be Nov. 18 to determine whether the county was justified in seizing more than 100 of Shumate’s animals, Wheeler says.

Editor note: A change has been made to this story to reflect CBS 19 obtained the court documents.

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