Who, age What Where When Last Known Address

Victor Abreu, 42(1)

aka Victor Abraeu

neglect of a horse

Tiskilwa, IL

Bureau County

May 1, 2004 Chicago, IL
David Menold(2) neglect of horses

Dunlap, IL

Peoria County

January 7 , 2005  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse


failure to appear, check-kiting

16 horses


(2)not charged


Abreu, age 42, a Chicago firefighter since 1994, wonít fight the seizure of 6 starving horse he owns on January 12, 2005.† One of the horses, a foal, was euthanized because of a broken leg.† Abreu wanted to be a horse breeder.

Abreu was arrested on an outstanding warrant for animal cruelty and check-kiting on January 25, 2005 at his home in the 1600 block of North Humboldt Blvd for failure to appear in court to answer the charges of inhumane treatment of a horse in Putnam County in October, 2004.† He was released 24 hours later after posting a bail.

The Department of Agriculture warned Abreu to make sure his horses receive proper care. Six of the horses--described by the state as malnourished--were taken from a farm in Peoria County to the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society in Barrington Hills.† The citation lists Abreu address as the 2600 block of Haddon Avenue in Chicago.

The 2 Barrington Hills horse rescue group will now seek new homes for the horses.

Abreu stated he would sell the remaining 10 horses to a DeKalb slaughterhouse to cut his losses.

David Menold has placed a lien on the 10 remaining horses and will block any effort to take the horses to slaughter until $10,000 Abreu owes for shelter, food and veterinary care is paid.

Since Abreuís comments about the plan to send the horses to slaughter were published, people from across the state and country have pledged money and material to save the 10 horses, according to the director of a DeKalb County horse-rescue group. "They will not be slaughtered," said Barb Boubelik, director of the Lazy Maple Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Leland. "That is the main goal."

Boubelik said people from Illinois and as far away as Pennsylvania and Virginia have pledged $4,000, plus feed and transportation, to remove the 10 horses from the Dunlap farm of David Menold, where Abreu has kept the horses since summer.

Boubelik spoke to Menold offering $400 apiece for the horses. The slaughterhouse had offered to pay†Abreu about $280 per horse.

A Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society official said the organization also is seeking qualified buyers for the six horses it has in custody.

Ronda Ewing, director of development for the group, said the 6 malnourished horses are doing better every day.†† "They're getting stronger and gaining weight," she said.

The Peoria County farmer said the owner of a feed store would visit his farm to see how to get the animals in good shape.

"When people come to offer to buy them, there'll be something there," Menold said. "They won't just be a bag of bones."

Update 1/8/05:
The state also cited Dunlap farmer David Menold, who said he was just boarding the horses for Abreu. The firefighter owes him about $10,000 for rent, feed and veterinary care, Menold said. "I'm responsible for horses I don't own," Menold said. "It's so disgusting. I can't figure it out."

The herd of registered horses, some said to be worth $3,000 to $5,000, entered Menold's 20-acre pasture in June when it was lush with grass. Abreu promised to remove the horses before winter arrived but never did, Menold said.

By August, the grass was gone, and the horses needed hay, Menold said. The stronger, dominant horses then pushed the weaker ones away from the hay.

Abreu's remaining 10 horses were in good condition on Monday, but they were stranded in Menold's muddy pasture without a windbreak or other shelter from the coming cold weather.

Two other horses and a steer who belong to another person, along with Abreu's animals, are consuming about $20 in hay daily, Menold said. He also is owed money for the other 3 animals but expects their owner to pay eventually.

He's not as confident about Abreu, who Menold said is being prosecuted for allegedly writing him a $2,100 bad check last summer shortly after the horses entered the pasture.

Donna Ewing of Hoofed Animal Rescue and Protection Society of Barrington said of the 6 seized horses, they were moved and now are receiving special feed and care. Their recovery may take 3 months, she said. "The animals were not receiving adequate feed," she said. Some had lice and they needed shots. "With a cold snap they could have died." The group already has spent $2,500 on their care, she said. "They're nothing but bags of bones now. Some are barely walking."

The saga of Abreu's horses extends back to last spring, when Agriculture Department inspectors found the herd neglected at a farm near Tiskilwa, Menold said.

Abreu then told inspectors he had sold them but actually only moved them to Dunlap, Harris said.

Menold said he had sold hay for the herd in Tiskilwa and offered to rent his pasture to Abreu for $50 per horse per month. The 2 signed a contract that called for extra pay if extra feed was required.

"It appears (the horses) were abandoned at (Menold's) farm," Harris said. They were receiving inadequate feed and no vet care. "When the little one had a broken leg, he let it suffer. I scolded him (Menold) terribly," Harris said.

Menold said he shouldn't be forced to spend money on horses he does not own.

The horses got some care from a veterinarian, who billed Abreu but also has not been paid, Menold said, adding he spent $130 on worming, which he and a friend did themselves.

Menold said he filed an agricultural lien against Abreu for the care of the horses, but he is not optimistic it will produce what he is owed because he lacks titles on the horses so cannot sell them. "I contacted a lawyer. Nothing was working, I'm pouring good money after bad," Menold said. "It's an awful situation."

Update 1/8/05:
Abreu and Menold were served with written notices, said Chris Herbert, spokeswoman for the ag department.

The notice gave Menold and Abreu 24 hours to begin giving supplements and correct problems for Abreu's 10 horses, which remain in Menold's pasture, Herbert said. An inspection showed the horses had a shelter area, a water source and were receiving needed care.

Two of the horses are in poor condition and require additional supplements, Herbert said. The other horses are currently being cared for, but the Ag Department will check on the violations, and charges still could be filed against Menold and Abreu, Herbert said.

Charges could range from a misdemeanor to more serious charges and would have to be filed by the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office, Herbert said. No one from that office could be reached for comment Friday.

Menold said the horses are receiving supplements and being fed at this time, but additional money will be needed to care for the animals, including 1 horse that is thought to be pregnant.

Menold said he had a contract with Abreu to provide summer pasture for the animals, but not hay. Abreu wrote a bad check, failed to pay for the animals' care and still owes $10,000, Menold claimed.

Menold said he was going to pursue legal action to keep Abreu from removing the horses without paying the money he is owed.

Update 1/11/05:
Last summer, Abreu brought his horses to a Dunlap pasture owned by Menold, who agreed to rent the field for $50 per horse per month.

Abreu promised to remove the horses by winter, but failed to do so. Grass disappeared in August, leaving the herd to scrounge for themselves.

Menold says he has provided the horses with some hay. But his agreement with Abreu did not call for boarding, just use of the pasture. And Menold is losing his shirt.

He says Abreu wrote him a $2,100 bad check last summer. All told, Menold says, Abreu owes him $10,000 for horse care, including veterinary bills.

Abreu still owns the 6 seized horses. But the impound order will transfer ownership of the animals to the rescue shelter unless Abreu files an appeal with the state by this week.

The horses that survive will be adopted out, after the shelter ensures a good placement, Ewing says. The adoptions are free, though the group asks for donations to help cover costs, which so far have reached $3,000 for all 6 animals.

Menold has filed a lien against Abreu.

The lien could allow Menold to claim the horses if Abreu fails to pay his debt.

Menold says he's already spent $500 in attorney's fees to file the lien, and he's reluctant to spend more money to further pursue the matter in court.

If the lien were to give him possession of the horses, Menold could sell them.

Update 1/16/05:
Seven abused horses find a temporary home at Leland farm. An 8-month-old colt warily eyed the man trying to coax him out of his stall. His encounter with the man was among his 1st interactions with humans. The colt was born in a field in central Illinois, where he and his herd had no shelter, improper food and little medical attention.

As a veterinarian ran her hand over his stomach, bloated from parasites and poor nutrition, he dipped his head a few inches and turned to look at her. Dust flew off his dull coat as she touched him.

"He's had almost no human contact," DeKalb County resident Steve Chemielewski said. He and the others at Lazy Maple Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation Center near Leland intend to change that.

They rescued the colt, 2 fillies and 4 mares from a Peoria County farm where they received poor care, said Steve's wife and the center's director, Barb Boubelik-Chemielewski. The rescued animals joined 12 other horses in her care.

She will devote months to getting them medical care for skin disorders they developed while being left ungroomed and without shelter and proper food. "They lacked proper nutrition," Boubelik-Chemielewski said. The horses were fed only a plain variety of hay, which is OK for cattle but doesn't contain enough nutrients for horses.

Since summer, Abreu's 16 horses had been at the Dunlap farm of David Menold, who wouldn't release the remaining 10 until he was paid for their previous care.

But Boubelik-Chemielewski came up with a higher offer. With the help of donors from throughout the country, including a Chicago woman who gave the center $5,000, Boubelik-Chemielewski bought seven of the 10 horses for $500 apiece.

She and other Lazy Maple volunteers took horse trailers to the Peoria County farm and picked up the 7 horses. "We had to leave 3 down there," Boubelik-Chemielewski said. "It just killed me.

One horse still in Peoria County has a leg that likely was gored by a bull. The untreated wound appeared infected, Boubelik-Chemielewski said.

While the rescued horses were examined, Rebecca Swearingen from Amboy Veterinarian Clinic squirted medicine in each horse's mouth in order to kill some of the parasites. "If we kill all the parasites at once, it will make them more sick," Swearingen said about the animals, whose stomachs already were upset from being introduced to higher-quality food. After she squirted the white medicine in the colt's mouth, he ran his tongue around his mouth and raised his upper lip.

Update 1/27/05:
Abreu, also known as Victor Abraeu, was arrested on 2 warrants, 1 each from Peoria and Putnam counties. He was released after posting bail in both cases.
Each of the 2 counts is a misdemeanor.

The Peoria County warrant was issued January 6th 2005 after Abreu failed to appear in court on a count of deceptive practice. He allegedly wrote Menold a bad check for $2,100.

The Putnam County warrant was issued October 14th 2004 after Abreu failed to appear in court on 2 charges relating to his horses' previous stay last spring on a pasture in rural Tiskilwa. One count alleged Abreu hadn't given the horses enough food and water. The other claimed he hadn't provided "humane care and treatment" for "failure to remove an accumulation of soupy manure from the horses' confinement area."

The Cook County Deputies went to Abreu's residence on the 2nd floor of a Chicago dwelling. Deputies knocked and asked for Abreu. He identified himself and said he would be right out, as soon as he put on appropriate clothes, said sheriff's spokeswoman Mateck.

After a minute or so of hearing nothing more, deputies grew suspicious. Questioned by deputies, a neighbor said he had heard sounds of someone leaving out the back, Mateck said.

A minute later, the neighbor came to deputies with a cell phone, saying Abreu was on the line. Abreu told deputies he had left out the back, called his attorney and decided to turn himself in, Mateck said.

Deputies took him to the sheriff's department for processing. They held him a few hours until a friend came by with bond. The Peoria County warrant required 10 percent of a $10,000 bond, while the Putnam County warrant required 10 percent of a $1,000 bond.

Update 1/29/05:

Seven of 10 malnourished horses that remained on a Dunlap-area farm have been saved from the slaughterhouse.

The Lazy Maple Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, based in DeKalb County, bought 7 horses for $500 each from David Menold, the pasture's owner, said Barb Boubelik, the center's director.

Abreu agreed to the sale after Menold filed a lien against him, Menold said. Abreu also has wired money to make partial restitution for the bad check, but he still owes a few hundred dollars. In the meantime, the expense of caring for the horses has grown to $12,000, Menold said.

Update 2/4/05:
Abraeu intended to plead not guilty to the Putnam charges of failing to provide his horses enough food and water and failing to provide "humane care and treatment" for the 2 misdemeanors regarding the horses when they were in rural Tiskilwa.

But Circuit Judge Kevin Galley would not formally accept the plea, because the Peoria lawyer said to have been retained by Abraeu had not entered an appearance in the case.

Abraeu was accompanied by Lacon attorney Patrick Murphy. But Murphy said he was just filling in for attorney Hugh Toner because of a scheduling conflict.

The judge set a March 3 date for Abraeu to appear with Toner.

The Putnam charges are Class B misdemeanors punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $1,500 fines. If he does plead not guilty, Abraeu would normally be placed on the county's next jury docket, which is in early May.

Update 5/20/05:
Chicago firefighter Victor Abraeu was fined and placed on court supervision after pleading guilty to charges of neglecting horses he was keeping at a farm in rural Putnam County last year.

Abraeu pled guilty in Putnam County Circuit Court to misdemeanor charges of failing to provide food and water and failing to provide a safe and humane environment for horses he was keeping on a rural Tiskilwa farm.

Abraeu, who had previously been scheduled for a bench trial on June 2, was sentenced to 18 months' court supervision and ordered to pay a total of $464 in fines and court costs under a negotiated agreement.

Separately, he also recently agreed to pay $3,000 to a Granville couple, John and Dorothy Biagi, who had filed a small claims lawsuit against him for failing to pay for hay that they had provided for his horses, according to court records.

Reports from neighbors led authorities to investigate the condition of the horses last year, said Putnam County State's Attorney Norman Raffety. Besides appearing malnourished, some were being kept in stalls that had not been cleaned for so long that they were standing in "soupy manure," he said.

Horses in a pasture were eating tree branches, and some knocked down fences to try to get to food in neighboring pastures, Raffety added.

Some of the horses were seized by state officials and sent to a rehabilitation facility, while others were sold by the farm owner to cover expenses. Abraeu told the Journal Star that he had initially owned the horses in partnership with another man who later went through bankruptcy, leaving him with costs that he could not cover alone.

Although Abraeu was sentenced to supervision, a new state law means that the charges will not be expunged, but will permanently remain part of his record, Raffety said.

Update 1/8/06:
Their health restored, several malnourished horses rescued from Dunlap field a year ago have new homes.

Sixteen horses were confiscated by state officials after receiving complaints about neglected animals in December 2004. Chicago firefighter Victor Abraeu , 42, left the horses with the owner of a Dunlap pasture but didn't provide money for food or care. The horses became malnourished and infected with parasites. Abraeu pleaded guilty in May in Putnam County to charges he failed to provide food and water and failed to provide humane care and treatment for the horses when he had previously kept them at a Tiskilwa pasture. He was ordered to pay $474 in fines and was sentenced to 18 months' court supervision.

It is hard for Barb Chmielewski of the Lazy Maple Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to believe a little more than 1 year ago, the starving horses were in danger of being sold to a slaughterhouse.

All of the horses were sold or rescued, Chmielewski said. "They were in bad condition. They had severe parasite infestation. They were completely dehydrated, starved. They would not have survived maybe another 30 days in that field," Chmielewski said. "They are now awesome. They are fat and happy."

Chmielewski was able to adopt out most of the horses. She still has one under her care, a chestnut-and-white mare named Cheyenne, who suffered injuries after delivering a stillborn mare at the Dunlap farm, officials said. She just underwent surgery to fix internal problems.

Chmielewski said all the horses have happy homes now.

Over the past 4 1/2 years, she has had 148 horses at the center. Chmielewski said donations can be made to Lazy Maples Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at 2622 Kane Road, Leland, IL 60531.

The center's mission is to provide safe refuge and care for neglected or special-need horses, eventually finding them a new home. The center, which survives through donations, is still paying the surgery bills for Cheyenne, who suffered injuries after delivering a stillborn mare at the Dunlap farm, officials said.


The Chicago Tribune The Journal Star
The Daily Chronicle The Peoria Journal Star