Cellphone Heir Convicted of Show Horse Industry Insurance Fraud
CHICAGO (AP) _ A cellular phone heir was found guilty of insurance fraud Thursday for having a lackluster show horse killed in order to collect on a $250,000 policy.
A federal jury convicted 31-year-old George Lindemann Jr. and his trainer, Marion Hulick, in a case that emerged from a wide-ranging investigation of fraud in the show horse industry.
The prosecution’s chief witness, Tommy Burns, testified that Hulick hired him to kill the horse in 1990 for $35,000. Burns said he sneaked onto Lindemann’s Connecticut farm, placed an electrical clip in the horse’s ear and another on its hindquarters, and plugged an attached wire into an outlet.
Horse electrocution is hard to detect because it can be easily disguised as colic, a common killer of horses.
Lindemann’s former stable hand, Molly Hasbrouck, testified that Lindemann hated the horse because it failed to perform to his standards. After one dismal appearance at an important competition, Lindemann ordered the animal left unprotected in a field during ``hurricane-like″ weather, she said.
Lindemann, the son of a cellular-phone and natural-gas tycoon, and Hulick could get to 15 years in prison and $750,000 in fines at sentencing Dec. 18.
Twenty of 23 people charged in the show-horse investigation have pleaded guilty, including Burns, and one person is awaiting trial. Most have not been sentenced.
Lawyers for Lindemann and Hulick presented no witnesses. They argued that Lindemann didn’t need the insurance money because of his family’s wealth and that Burns wasn’t credible.
The investigation began as a look into the 1977 disappearance of candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach. While investigating Ms. Brach’s boyfriend, stable owner Richard Bailey, investigators received a tip that Burns was killing show horses for insurance money.
Bailey was accused of arranging Brach’s murder but never prosecuted for the crime. Earlier this year, he was convicted of insurance fraud and sentenced to 30 years in prison.