East Bethel city administrator worried about 'horse shell game'

Over the years, East Bethel resident Lowell Friday has faced multiple accusations of horse abuse.  And last night, there were more. The claims are prompting the city of East Bethel to bar him from owning horses in their city.

But it appears Friday has found a way around that.  His property is only "partially" in East Bethel. The other half of his property is in Ham Lake, which doesn’t have any ordinances about horses.

East Bethel city leaders believe this is allowing Friday to play a shell game with his horses.  According to the signs on his property, Friday has plenty of horses to sell at NV Horse Farm – but what he doesn't have is a permit to keep them there.

Three years ago, East Bethel denied Friday an interim use permit to keep large animals in their city after the humane society seized 18 horses that were so severely malnourished that four of them eventually had to be euthanized.

But over the weekend, Brandon Loftus said he saw nine horses without adequate shelter, food or drinking water on that same property when he we went to Friday's farm to buy a horse he’d advertised on Craigslist.

"Algae, manure, mud all in the water, so no fresh water,” Loftus said.

East Bethel City Administrator Jack Davis said since Friday was denied a permit, the city has gotten a half-dozen calls from people who say they saw horses on his farm. But by the time deputies get there, the animals are gone.

"It’s regrettable it’s come up again," Davis said.

Making matters worse, half of Friday's property is in Ham Lake which doesn't have an ordinance concerning horses -- allowing him to keep horses there without breaking the law.

"On his farm all of the facilities are on the East Bethel side,” Davis said.  “On the Ham Lake side, there are only wetlands and pasture. So this may be the way he is trying to get around this. We don't know for sure but we are going to find out."

Friday told Fox 9 he isn’t doing anything wrong, and that he keeps his horses on the Ham Lake side. But East Bethel officials aren’t so sure of that.

When Fox 9 stated he didn’t have a permit to have large animals in East Bethel, he replied, “I've got land in both Ham Lake and East Bethel.  So in the city of East Bethel I don't have any.”

The last time there were allegations of animal neglect against Friday it made headlines across the country.

"We don't want Mr. Friday to draw attention to the city in a negative manner,” Davis said. “The way this happened in 2012 and now. We want to make sure all the animals in the city are treated humanely."

MORE - Alleged mistreatment of horses again at farm in East Bethel, Minn.