11/03/2016 11:50AM

Louisiana trainer Jonas Gibson charged with horse theft


Jonas Gibson, a trainer based in Louisiana, was arrested on Oct. 25 in Bossier City, La., and charged with stealing at least three racehorses, according to state law-enforcement authorities.

Gibson, 34, remained in custody on a $55,000 bond on Thursday morning on three charges of theft of livestock, according to records of the Bossier Sheriff Office. Carnie Burcham, an investigator who is working the case, said Gibson was apprehended at a Bossier City apartment complex while in the process of moving out.

The case stems from accusations that Gibson absconded with three horses before being ruled off by stewards at Louisiana Downs in early September, Burcham said. One of the horses, Ide Better Move, was sold by Gibson without the owners’ authorization after he forged papers relating to the horse, Burcham said. Gibson has admitted to the forgery, Burcham said.

Although Burcham declined to identify the owners of the horses, Ide Better Move was owned by Extreme Racing Stable earlier this year, according to race records. Extreme Racing Stable also owns the two other horses, Yankee Star and Java Man, that were identified by Burcham as having been stolen.

Gibson sold Ide Better Move for $20,000 in April, Burcham said. According to race records, Ide Better Move won a $23,000 maiden special weight race at Louisiana Downs on June 1 for new trainer Joseph M. Foster and owner James Watkins.

Burcham said that the new trainer and owner were not suspected of knowing that Gibson had forged papers related to the horse, and that Extreme Racing Stable continued to be billed for the horse’s care after Gibson sold the horse.

“The owners thought he was still running for them,” Burcham said. “They were paying [Gibson], for horseshoes, for training, for the exercise rider.”

Gibson has won 11 races from 52 starts this year, with purse earnings of $101,147, according to Daily Racing Form records, a slow year for the trainer. Gibson won more than 50 races from approximately 250 starters each of the last two years, with earnings of $480,581 in 2015 and earnings of $628,745 in 2014. Since winning his first race in 2005, Gibson has won 219 races from 1,181 starters.

Roy Wood, the Louisiana state steward, said that Gibson was ruled off in September for “non-payment of financial obligations,” and he said that Gibson was facing three claims for non-payment. Gibson’s license was suspended as a result, according to the Louisiana Racing Commission.

Gibson has also been charged with bank fraud and “issuing worthless checks,” Burcham said, though those charges are unrelated to the racing-related charges. Those charges led the investigators to the horse theft allegations, Burcham said.

Yankee Star was found at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., Burcham said, while Java Man, after getting injured in the summer, was given to a trainer in Texas.

Seven horses that Gibson left at Louisiana Downs after being ruled off the track have been relocated to an equine facility and are being cared for, Burcham said.

Gibson was charged with theft of livestock in 2007 but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor after a party made restitution to the victim, Burcham said. Burcham was the investigating officer in that case as well, and he said that Gibson also forged papers in that case.