Ten horses died in a Wright County barn fire on Dec. 28. Fox 9 has now learned the owner of the horses is no stranger to fires or allegations of neglect.
Dr. Mohammed El Deeb is a dentist and used to be quite active in the horse racing world, but that all changed after an investigation that cited another barn fire and horse neglect near Buffalo. He's not allowed to race anymore, but he still can have horses.
Horse farm manager Ron Winget remembers the sounds the horses made as he and a passerby tried pulling them from a barn in flames. Winget and the other person both suffered smoke inhalation and got four horses out, but 10 died.
El Deeb was in Egypt when the fire broke out, and is still in Egypt.
"I know he's upset. He was crying on the phone about it," Winget said.
A 2008 police report diagrams and documents an investigation into "the issue of neglect in not providing horses with shelter" on the farm, noting "one adult and three foals" dead, "two babies that were born in the winter that died because they were left out in the cold."
Court records say El Deeb reached a plea deal, pleading guilty to failure to provide shelter.
Winget told Fox 9 he just learned about the problems on the farm from an investigator on Wednesday, and said it has been well taken care of in the four years he has been there.
El Deeb owns another horse farm in Lakeville, and there was also a 2003 fire that killed 18 horses. The cause of the fire is undetermined.
Just last year, the Minnesota Racing Commission revoked El Deeb's license to race his thoroughbreds in the state, citing the Lakeville fire, the issues at the Buffalo farm, and more, finding "shocking instances of equine neglect and death."
He still has horses, however. They were on the farm on Thursday. The latest fire is still under investigation by the State Fire Marshal.