Laedeke, 60, was charged with at least two counts of cruelty to animals, one of them a felony, and one count of livestock unlawfully running at large, a misdemeanor.
An investigation into this case began in August 2015, when two loose horses were spotted south of the interstate near Billings.
A county animal control officer noted that one horse appeared malnourished and both had scabs and scars, charges state.
The officer determined that the horses belonged to Laedeke, who at first would not admit that he owned the horses.
After Laedeke quit lying, officers inspected his property. They found multiple horses in "poor condition".
The officer rated many of Laedeke's horses as a "one" on the Henneke Body Scoring System, a standardized numerical scale used to evaluate a horse's body mass. "One" is the lowest score a horse can have and not be dead.
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According to court documents, a pony was found on the property with untrimmed, overgrown hooves that made it difficult and painful for the animal to walk.
One of the stud horses was found with a serious infection that led him to waste away.
At least three horse skeletons were found on Laedeke’s property, according to court documents.
Investigators did not observe any feed or grass for the animals to eat.
When questioned about the condition of the horses, Laedeke acknowledged that the horses were a little thin but denied that they were in poor shape.
Laedeke made various excuses, according to the report, as to why the horses were not cared for.
Laedeke told the officers that he would get the pony’s hooves trimmed and make sure the other horses were tended to, but nothing had changed two months later.
Apparently they never bothered to file criminal charges against him even. Instead, they told him to either kill the horses, sell them or get them back to decent health.
Over the following months, officers returned to inspect the animals.
In August 2015, the officer noted that of about 32 horses on the property, just eight appeared to be in "decent body condition," charges state.
A Montana Equine Medical/Surgical Center doctor reached similar conclusions in October 2015, according to court documents.
Again, nothing was done.
Inspections in March 2016 found another neglected horse, according to court documents.
Nothing was done. Is this sounding familiar?
Officers responded to Laedeke’s property as recently as March 2017 for a complaint of a sick horse on his property.
The horse’s ribs, hips, and other bones were showing through, according to court documents.
WAS LAEDEKE ABLE TO AVOID PROSECUTION BECAUSE HE WAS AN ATTORNEY?
A former attorney, Laedeke was disbarred in 2015 for mishandling a client's settlement in the wake of a vehicle crash death. The Montana Supreme Court ordered him to pay $65,547 in restitution.
Then in 2016, he faced federal charges for wire fraud for alleged embezzlement in that same case. Prosecutors said that Laedeke took outsized fees from a settlement while representing the estate of a person who died in a car crash.
That case was dismissed in September 2016.
In Montana, disbarred attorneys cannot reapply for admittance for at least five years.
In the animal case, Laedeke is scheduled to appear in Yellowstone County District Court on April 27.
(KXLH - April 21, 2017)