Lake Helen father charged with stealing, painting horse

Lake Helen father charged with stealing, painting horse

23 August 2012

According to the Sun Sentinel, Thomas Pugliese was charged with felony grand theft of a farm animal and other charges after he allegedly painted a stolen horse and told his daughter to run away with the animal to keep law enforcement from taking it. (Volusia County Jail, Volusia County Jail / August 22, 2012)

By Arelis R. Hernández, Orlando Sentinel8:42 p.m. EDT, August 22, 2012

Bullet the Horse is embroiled in a contentious custody clash between two parties claiming to own him.

He was given to a Lake Helen woman in July, but about 10 days later, the horse disappeared from her pasture.

Raphine Pierce told police she suspected a teenage girl stole the horse, setting off a nearly monthlong conflict that ended with the girl's father, Thomas Pugliese, under arrest, according to a Lake Helen police report.

On Aug. 13, weeks after reporting Bullet missing, Pierce said she spotted him on Pugliese's property — only something was different about the horse.

She said the white, diamond-shaped marking on Bullet's forehead had been dyed brown to match his body. Other distinctive marks also seemed to be colored to conceal his true identity.

Pierce called police to report an equine theft, and Officer Scott Owen immediately saw through the ruse, he wrote in a report.

Police said it is unclear who legally owns Bullet. Pugliese couldn't produce any ownership papers, but Pierce had Bullet's medical records and registration information, Owen said.



RESOURCE: Sun Sentinel News,,0,6141928.story

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