Pamela Vivirito holds a horse for the veterinarian.
The founder of Equine Angels Rescue in Pennsylvania threatened to expose her affair with a married man to “extort property” from him, according to the prosecutor’s office.
A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Pamela Vivirito of Valencia last week. FBI agents arrested Vivirito on Friday in a Target parking lot. She is charged with interference with commerce by extortion. She made her initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Cynthia Eddy on Friday afternoon.
Court documents state Vivirito had an affair with a man identified only as “Person 1” from May 2012 to March 2015. The man is engaged in real estate sales and the rental of commercial properties.
The defendant obtained his property due to his fear that his and his wife’s businesses would suffer if the defendant made good on threats to expose their sexual affair, according to the indictment.
This isn’t the first time controversy has surrounded the rescue founder. Five horse owners sued Equine Angels Rescue, Vivirito, a state official, and veterinarian in 2013. The suit alleged, among other issues, that the defendants engaged in a scheme to manipulate the laws and “extort” horses from their owners under threat of criminal prosecution. The suit settled in December 2013 for $105,000. The horse owners regained possession of their horses and agreed to allow inspections by officials for a period of time.
Vivirito is scheduled to be arraigned on March 20th in the criminal case. If Vivirito is found guilty of extortion, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.