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Grace Foundation brings attention to their financial plight Monday | Animal Lovers

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Grace Foundation brings attention to their financial plight Monday
Animal Lovers
Grace Foundation brings attention to their financial plight Monday

The Grace Foundation, who filed a $20 million lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America last week, brought some horses to a Wells Fargo bank branch Monday to bring attention to their plight.

According to a press release generated by this El Dorado County non-profit animal rescue,  it is "on the verge of bankruptcy and the horses that are at the center of this tragedy are in jeopardy of being returned to their previous owner who is now facing 65 felony counts of abuse and neglect."

The foundation added that they uncovered legal documents revealing “a ten-month trail of lies and deceit perpetrated by the banks and their legal intermediary in a zealous rush to increase their foreclosure assets. The documents not only prove the duplicity perpetrated by Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America representatives, they also reveal a callous disregard for the lives of these innocent victims of the foreclosure frenzy.

Referred to as "the graveyard case" this story gained international attention last fall when 30 horses and 3 dogs were found dead on a property located in Susanville California. Adding to the overwhelming  costs and tragedy of this case is that 22 of the horses were pregnant when they arrived and many of the foals did not survive due to the abuse their mother's endured. With constant veterinary care and assistance 14 of the babies have survived. 

To date The Grace Foundation has spent and accrued costs totally over $800,000. This has left the foundation buried in debt with no way to continue to cover the overwhelming expenses of these high risk babies and mares, the cost of which is now totaling $50,000/month.” 

"This is a nightmare we cannot wake up from." says Beth DeCaprio, Executive Director and founder of The Grace Foundation, "The banks turned over ownership of the horses when they had no legal right to do so, the fact that they did this to simply to rid themselves of the liability is a crushing blow. The banks played the game "hot potato" with our organization and with the lives of these horses; we have the horses and all the financial responsibility.  There is no one that will take over the responsibility of these horses. We have no money to continue to care for them without help and yet if we stopped we would go to jail."  

The release goes on to state that “the banks seem happy to let The Grace Foundation slowly drown in the mess they themselves created. While they have offered The Grace Foundation a settlement, it is less than half of what the foundation has currently spent and does nothing to support the horses into the future.  The Grace Foundation's pleas for help with the horses' immediate care have gone unanswered.”

In response to the lawsuit, both Wells Fargo and Bank of America have sent News10 the following comments:

Julie Campbell, Asst VP, Wells Fargo Bank Corporate Communications - “Ms. DeCaprio’s claims against Wells Fargo are completely without merit. Wells Fargo has never owned the Whispering Pines property or the horses that formerly resided there, nor were we involved in the horses being transferred to the Grace Foundation. In fact, in a Lassen County legal document signed by Ms. DeCaprio herself, the Grace Foundation took possession of the horses directly from Lassen County. Despite having no legal obligation to do so, we have provided past grants of more than $20,000 to support the Grace Foundation’s operations. We also recently joined with Bank of America to offer $400,000 in additional grants, which were surprisingly rejected by Ms. DeCaprio. We care deeply about the welfare of the animals, but we cannot force the Grace Foundation to accept our offer of support, nor can we allow these false allegations to go unchallenged.”

Jumana Bauwens, Bank of America Media Relations – “We have not seen the lawsuit yet but here is information regarding our history with the Grace Foundation.  In 2011, Bank of America was made aware of animal abuse and neglect at a property at which Dwight Bennett was living and was responsible for the animals. When authorities were called in, many horses had died and dozens were sick and starving. Despite the fact that the bank did not own the property or the horses, we petitioned the court, prior to foreclosure, to remove the horses from the ranch in Susanville because of the abuse they were suffering at the hands of this man. The horses were taken by a receiver appointed by the court and then abandoned to the County of Lassen. The county then turned the horses over to the Grace Foundation.

At no time did Bank of America have any ownership interest in the horses or the property. When Grace asked for a $20,000 donation to help care for the animals, we donated the exact amount requested immediately. We worked closely with authorities to ensure the man responsible for these atrocities was charged and will be prosecuted. The allegations that Bank of America fraudulently handed over the horses to the Grace Foundation are untrue.

When we learned about its current financial situation at the end of May, we immediately reached out to understand its needs, lend support and offer assistance. In the last week, we have visited the foundation and carefully reviewed invoices related to these horses in order to understand the best way to help the foundation continue to care for the horses. Even though we have no ongoing obligations with this organization, we offered the foundation a $200,000 donation, but the offer was declined. We appreciate all the Grace Foundation does to provide care and support to animals in need. We truly want to help this foundation and the horses, and are hopeful it will reconsider our offer of $200,000.”

A fund has been established by The Grace Foundation to help them to be able to continue to care for these horses and keep them out of the hands of their previous owner. For more information about The Grace Foundation, click HERE.

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