MARYVILLE, TN – A Blount County Tennessee Grand Jury, in the hometown of U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander, on Monday returned true bills of indictment against accused felony horse sorer Larry Joe Wheelon and three accomplices
Larry Joe Wheelon has served as Ethics Chairman of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers Association, is known as the Dean of the East Tennessee Walking Trainers.
Wheelon and his alleged accomplices are accused of soring or harming Tennessee Walking Horses that Wheelon trained on Tuckaleechee Pike. There were two counts of conspiracy. All defendants are afforded the presumption of innocence and the right to trial before a jury of their peers until proven and convicted guilty of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt of the charges against them.
The persons indicted along with Larry Joe Wheelon include Randall Stacy Gunter of Louisville, Tennessee, Brandon Lunsford of Walland, Tennessee and farrier Blake Tanner Primm of Sevierville, Tennessee.
The Wheelon case was the result of an investigation and operation spearheaded by the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Chapter(SPCA) President Gino Bachman and his Wife Kellie Bachman, Investigative Coordinator. Both Bachmans are former Drug Enforcement Administration officers. Confidential informants first reported the abuse, and after obtain a search warrant was obtained by Julie McMillian, USDA -OIG agent, Wheelon’s barn was raided on April 18, 2013, and evidence of horse soring was gathered. Then on April 25, 2013, Wheelon was arrested on a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals and 19 horses seized and placed with The Humane Society of the United States. A drama filled three day Preliminary Hearing was held in August 2013, and the end result was the felony charge against Wheelon was dismissed when an expert USDA witness was not allowed to testify due to a procedural error. Subsequently, the 19 seized horses in the custody of The Humane Society of the United States were returned to their owners under the Order of General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick.
U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was raised in Maryville, Tennessee, the son of school teachers. He was educated at Vanderbilt University (Phi Beta Kappa), then New York University School of Law, and clerked for the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge John Minor Wisdom. He also played the piano at night to make extra money in New Orleans. Alexander served as Legislative Assistant for Tennessee U. S. Senator Howard Baker. He served eight years as Governor of Tennessee (1979 – 1987) and then President of The University of Tennessee (1988 – 1991). He served as Secretary of Education in the George H. W. Bush from 1991 – 1993. Alexander was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, and entertained Presidential ambitions in 1996 and 2000. In 2002, Alexander was elected to the U. S. Senate. Steve Smith, a political junkie, served as Alexander’s Campaign Chairman in 2008, and for his Presidential election gambits, and now for Alexander’s 2014 re-election campaign.
Now TWHBEA President nominee Steve Smith apparently expects U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander to reward Smith’s services as his Finance Chairman by opposing the HR 1518/S1406 Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.
It remains to be seen if the 73 year old Senator Alexander will allow himself to be “used” as the Senate version of Representative Marsha Blackburn
at the behest of Campaign Finance Chair Steve Smith as the Senator who tries to prolong the horse soring stigma associated with the Tennessee Walking Horse breed or if Lamar Alexander will step up and embrace the future of the Sound Tennessee Walking Horse which was recently on display at the The University of Tennessee Homecoming game and become a “profile in courage” on this issue.
There’s no question that what Lamar Alexander decides to do on this issue will be a major part of his legacy.