A former Montana horse rescue operator was sentenced to 12-years in prison Friday. Thomas Jessberger was one of the operators of the now-defunct Rocky Acres Horse Rescue and Sanctuary.
Jessberger and Darlene Rindal were both charged with 34 felony counts of animal cruelty in 2014. Dozens of maltreated and emaciated horses were seized from the purported horse rescue near Townsend.
Jessberger’s co-defendant Rindal is scheduled for trial in March.
Jessberger has a prior criminal record. He ran from Montana authorities for 5-months while out on bond. Authorities captured him in Florida.
Jessberger pleaded no-contest to 15 felony counts in October. He faced up to 20-years in prison.
Jessberger is currently serving a five-year sentence in an unrelated theft case.