Ex-racehorse trainer sentenced in saddle theft

07/29/2014 12:00 AM

07/28/2014 11:24 AM

An Efland man was sentenced last week in Orange County after being found this year with a dozen saddles stolen from a Canadian horse farm.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Carl Fox gave Ronald D. Nixon Jr., 27, a suspended sentence of 14 to 26 months in prison for felony possession of stolen goods and possession of a firearm by a felon. Nixon got the second charge when deputies found two guns while searching his home.

He previously had been convicted on a 2005 breaking and entering charge in Orange County.

Fox ordered Nixon to serve 30 days in the Orange County Jail and be on supervised probation for two years. For 90 days, Nixon will be on electronic house arrest and only able to leave home to go to work.

Fox also ordered Nixon to pay $1,830.78 to Park Lane Stables to reimburse the owner for advertising, travel and other costs incurred while searching for the stolen goods. Nixon cannot be within 10 miles of the stables, and his guns were forfeited to the sheriff’s office.

The owner of the Park Lane Stables in Ontario, Canada, reported 13 saddles and other equipment stolen from a barn in November. The equipment, valued at $60,000, included an Antares, a Bates, Butet, and several other close contact saddles. The stolen goods showed up later on eBay, and the Ontario Provincial Police traced it to North Carolina. They contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Local investigators found 12 saddles and tack with matching serial numbers in an Alamance County storage unit. Video surveillance showed Nixon and his girlfriend unloading the property, Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor said.

Attorney Donald Dickerson said Nixon has tried to make amends for his crime; he started by returning the saddle that deputies didn’t find to the owner. Nixon, a racehorse trainer, took the saddles when he worked in Canada, Dickerson said, and has since helped the owner understand how he thwarted the security system.

Canadian authorities didn’t charge Nixon for the theft, because he returned the saddles and was facing charges in Orange County, Dickerson said.

Nixon probably would be looking at prison time if he had not tried to rectify his mistake, Proctor said.

“He’s also currently employed, which I don’t get a lot,” he said.

Dickerson said Nixon’s employer, an aluminum siding company, is holding his job until he gets out of jail. Nixon wants to put the incident behind him as soon as possible, marry his fiancee and continue to support her child, Dickerson said.

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