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Sagebrush Ranch owner pleads guilty to avoid trial

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Sagebrush Ranch owner pleads guilty to avoid trial

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Aug 4, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- You wouldn't know it by looking at their website, but Sagebrush Ranch is officially out of business. Of course, it wasn't legally in business to begin with. 

This after owner Jacque Fitzgerald struck a plea deal with county prosecutors to avoid trial.

"The plea deal is I have to let them adopt my horses out or kill them. Or they won't drop the charges," Fitzgerald said in a July interview.

What Fitzgerald told us last month is now a reality. But with the plea deal, she admitted to something she said she never would.

"That's the most horrible thing that a horse person can have happen to them, is for people to think that they're cruel. And that is the last thing that I would ever be."

Monday morning, Fitzgerald plead guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty, an amended charge in order to avoid standing trial on two cases stemming from charges in 2012. The charges were for depriving her horses of medical care and unsanitary conditions at the facility where she kept them.

She was also facing a third case involving her trail riding business that included lessons and camps for children. Something she said she had to do in order to feed her horses.

"I did have enough money as long as the rides were going and I was giving lessons," said Fitzgerald, and that's where she said she decided to operate illegally.

Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to doing business without a license. She paid a $200 fine and will not get any of the 36 animals back the county seized in mid-July.

She remains under investigation regarding those 36 horses. All the animals the county's vet examined were malnourished and in need of medical attention. 

Further charges could be forthcoming.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.