Wild and getting wilder

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:

The “Wild horse story” featured
on page one of the November 1995 A N IMAL
PEOPLE got wilder on December
17 when Doug McInnis of the New York
T i m e s office in Casper, Wyoming,
revealed that a grand jury probe of alleged
diversion of wild horses from the Bureau of
Land Management adoption program to
slaughter has been underway for four years,
not two as we had believed, with still no
indictments and no indication that key witnesses
have even been called.
The case made national headlines
on September 19, after the American Wild
Horse and Burro Alliance and nine other
groups alleged a coverup of illegal wild
horse slaughter at a press conference
attended by five current and former BLM
law enforcement agents. But the agents,
purportedly gagged by the grand jury,
didn’t speak. The only supporting evidence
offered was a letter from former BLM
staffer Reed Smith, which cited wild horses
only in the first sentence and otherwise
apparently concerned a dispute between
Smith and superiors over an oil-and-gas
leasing case. ANIMAL PEOPLE recognized
Smith as the author of many dubious
claims over the past 33 years, including
that the Nazis didn’t kill millions of Jews.

One former BLM law enforcement
agent who attended the press conference,
Steve Sederwall, did describe to
ANIMAL PEOPLE several diversions of
wild horses to slaughter that took place
between 1987 and 1989––but all were long
since exposed by animal protection groups,
media, and a 1990 probe by the General
Accounting Office. Sederwall acknowledged
that he had been on leave since
January 1995 due to stress-related mental
disability; on December 1, he retired.

Heading the grand jury investigation,
located far from any known site
involved in the BLM wild horse program,
U.S. deputy attorney Alia Ludlom neither
answered her telephone nor returned calls,
including from BLM information officer
Tanna Chattin. Formerly a nationally
known investigative reporter, Chattin
began probing the case herself after she
attended the September 19 press conference
to find out what was going on, eight
months after joining the BLM, and was
thrown out as an alleged spy.
As the September 19 accusations
reverberated, Congressional Republicans
cut the BLM wild horse program out of the
Department of the Interior budget, killing
enforcement of the 1970 Wild and Free
Ranging Horse and Burro Protection Act.
possible role of the press conference as a
diversion while BLM grazing lease holders
averse to sharing grass and water with horses
in effect undid wild horse protection.
On the spot, Sederwall wrote to
the U.S. Attorney in San Antonio, alleging,
McInnis said, “that BLM employees tipped
off suspects in the case to an impending
search warrant, and divulged other critical
information, allowing suspects––some of
whom worked for the BLM––to remove,
alter, or destroy evidence.”
About then, McInnis added, the
Justice Department wrote to horse broker
James Galloway, of Colleyville, Texas,
“formally notifying him that he was under
investigation.” Galloway’s attorney,
Chuck Aspinwall, of Albuquerque, told
McInnis that Galloway was “in danger of
being indicted.” Galloway claims to have
adopted out 9,000 wild horses as a BLM
subcontractor. McInnis indicated that
Sederwall and possibly other investigators
had obtained search warrants asserting that
according to an informant Galloway was
actually sending horses to friends’ ranches,
fattening them, and reselling them to
slaughter. Twenty-seven BLM horses were
seized from one of the ranches in raids conducted
in July 1993 and December 1994.
A mid-1993 BLM internal memo
by bureau chief of law enforcement Walter
Johnson said, “The scope and complexity
of the investigation also increased to
include scores of individuals, including
allegations against private citizens and middle
and upper management of the BLM.”
But none of that explains how
Galloway could be close to indictment if as
Sederwall and other potential witnesses
claim, none have been called to testify to
the grand jury and all were threatened with
dismissal if they gave evidence directly to
Ludlom. None of it explains, either, why
the Department of Justice gave Galloway a
warning––at risk it might become public
knowledge, potentially prejudicing public
opinion and interfering with jury selection.

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