The U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Sept. 19 that a six-month suspension and $6,000 fine would be levied against hunter professional Evan Coluccio and his business EMC International for misrepresenting a horse’s green status.
The Hearing Committee report from the USEF alleges Virginia-based trainer Coluccio “knowingly changed the identity of the horse Epic Life in order to improperly compete the horse at the pre-green level, and then improperly sold the horse to a third party as a pre-green prospect.”
The horse showed in the 3′ green hunters at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, held June 6-12, 2016, in Upperville, Virginia.
The statement says Coluccio did not attend his hearing, held Aug. 21 before the USEF Hearing Committee, and he did not offer a defense against the claims.
“The evidence in this case demonstrated that Mr. Coluccio competed the horse in pre-green classes in 2016 when he knew or should have known the horse was no longer eligible,” states the USEF’s Hearing Committee report. “In order to improperly position the horse as being pre-green eligible to prospective buyers, Mr. Coluccio changed the name and registration of the horse in June 2016. Mr. Coluccio then sold the improperly positioned horse to an unsuspecting buyer in 2017 who subsequently competed the horse in the green hunters for which it was not eligible. Accordingly, the Hearing Committee unanimously ruled that the following penalties are appropriate for the violations.”
Epic Life is registered with USEF as a 10-year-old Mecklenburg gelding (Converter—Capriole). USEF registration records show that the horse formerly went by Power Play, and that the last recorded owner was David Larry Glefke.
Coluccio re-registered the horse as Knight Life, a 10-year-old warmblood of unrecorded breeding he co-owned with Ginny Burton, in June 2016, before selling him to Karen Bailey, who subsequently changed his name to Castlegrace. Burton brought the claim against Coluccio.
Attorney Bonnie Navin, who serves as counsel for both Burton and Glefke, confirmed that Glefke supported Burton against Coluccio.
“He changed the name, and that was unethical; he knew what he was doing when he did that,” said Liz Redding, Burton’s trainer and a witness for Burton at the hearing. “And it’s sad because he has so much talent. To do things like that, it’s just disheartening. We need more honesty and better business practices in this industry.”
Coluccio’s suspension will begin Jan. 1, 2019. Regarding specifics of the suspension, USEF’s statement reads: “Any horse or horses, completely or in part owned, leased, or of any partnership, corporation or stable of Evan Coluccio or EMC International, or shown in the name or either or for the reputation of either (whether such interest was held at the time of the alleged violation or acquired thereafter) shall be suspended pursuant to Chapter 7, GR703, 1c, for the same time period.”
Coluccio could not be reached for comment.