An accused horse abuser in Florida was sentenced to 5-years probation on Wednesday. James Richard ‘Bo’ Sharpe, of Okeechobee, entered into a plea deal with prosecutors.
Sharpe pleaded no contest to three felony and three misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. Circuit Court Judge Sherwood Bauer decided to withhold adjudication, meaning Sharpe is not a convicted animal abuser, although he is facing penalties.
Sharpe must serve 250 hours community service, take an online equine care course, and is subject to random inspections to check any animals that may be in his possession, according to court documents. He was also ordered to give a DNA sample. Sharpe also owes restitution to the county after animal control rehabbed his horses.
The former Prairie Trail Riders owner and operator was charged in May with eight felony and three misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. Authorities seized 11 horses, including mustangs, from Sharpe due to their emaciated condition and injuries. Court documents state Sharpe committed cruel acts that included whipping, lashing, and beating the horses.
A court order forced the sale of Sharpe’s five horses. Three went to private homes and two were taken in by rescues.
Sharpe, who also boards horses, reportedly closed his business.
If Sharpe stays out of trouble and meets all conditions, his probation could be terminated after 2 1/2 years.