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DA pleads down Mustang horse trainer’s criminal neglect and abandonment charges to single violation

Hillsboro, Ore. – A former BLM Mustang horse trainer from Oregon received a sudden and unexpected sentence last week in one of her two criminal cases that involved a total of fourteen misdemeanor charges for animal neglect and abandonment.

Horse advocates are now expressing their disappointment over the plea deal prosecutors with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office handling one of the two cases gave the defendant.

In April, Michael Jean Wells, 48, who also goes by “Mickie”, allegedly neglected her horses before abandoning them at multiple horse boarding facilities. Boarders at a boarding facility outside of Colton in Clackamas County tipped off investigators with the Oregon Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement team to the situation.

That investigation, which resulted in the seizure of four horses, then led to the discovery that Wells had abandoned previously neglected horses at another facility located in Washington County. That then prompted another round of charges, also for neglect and abandonment.

According to past statements by Oregon Humane Society spokesperson Laura Klink, Sound Equine Options assisted agents in taking custody of the horses after obtaining and executing a warrant in May of 2023.

The cases faced repeated delays caused by Wells, including questions regarding her claims of retaining private legal counsel despite later having to be appointed a court-appointed attorney. She also failed to appear at other hearings, leading to warrants issued for her arrest.

Equestrian Media Group and news partner Pamplin Media Group have continued to provide updated coverage over the last year as Wells’ cases moved through the courts.

“While we are grateful that Ms. Wells has been banned from owning horses for 5 years and that the horses were forfeited, we are very disappointed that she was able to make a plea agreement that did not include at least one misdemeanor charge for animal neglect in the second degree,” said Sound Equine Options’ Executive Director Kim Mosiman.

“We often see people convicted of animal neglect re-offend. This makes it important for neglect charges to be on the record so that any additional convictions are likely to result in tougher sentencing.”

Mosiman detailed their work supporting the Oregon Humane Society (OHS), whose Humane Law Enforcement team was the lead agency investigating Wells’ cases.

“In addition to caring for horses from this case for over 9 months, we have also been caring for 4 horses owned by Ms. Wells that were seized in Clackamas County. Those horses came under our care on March 7th, 2023. We are hoping for more accountability on the Clackamas County Case,” said Mosiman.

James Jacobus, an OHS spokesperson, told Equestrian Media Group: “[The] Oregon Humane Society is grateful that this case has been resolved and that the horses can move on to their new homes.”

Despite a slew of specific questions sent to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office concerning their handling of the case, Public Information Officer Stephen Mayer provided the following statement to Equestrian Media Group:

“Our goal with this prosecution was to ensure the safety of these horses. We feel that the resolution of this case accomplished that goal. With her conviction, Ms. Wells forfeited the horses that were endangered in this case. She is also now prohibited by statute from owning any horses for a period of five years. Additionally, Ms. Wells was ordered to reimburse the Oregon Humane Society more than $13,000 spent on the care of the animals.”

Mayer did not address whether the assistance from Senior Assistant Attorney General Jacob Kamins– the State’s Animal Abuse Resource Prosecutor– had been offered or requested. Kamins is currently handling similar charges against Wells on behalf of the Clackamas County District Attorney, a case which is still ongoing.

Several proponents who had been following the case reached out to Equestrian Media Group and expressed that they thought the terms for Wells were ultimately poorly written compared to similar cases, especially since the prohibition only stated that she was prohibited from ownership and not from being in the care, custody, or control of horses.

She was also surprised to learn about the entire judgment from Equestrian Media Group and not from prosecutors, considering their involvement in the case and pending requests to testify at forfeiture hearings, which had been repeatedly delayed.

Mayer also did not explain the alleged lack of communication from Deputy District Attorney Trevor Farrell.

Wells is scheduled to return to Clackamas County Circuit Court on March 25th at 1:30 p.m. for a mini-trial concerning the forfeiture of the four horses seized in that case. A six-person jury trial is also scheduled for April 16th.

You can count on NW Horse Report to keep you updated on this ongoing story.

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