EL DORADO HILLS—
A herd of horses whose future has been uncertain ever since they were confiscated in Lassen County as part of an abuse and bankruptcy case is once again at the center of controversy. In a bizarre twist, an attorney representing the Grace Foundation, caretakers of the animals, is calling for the removal of the Foundation’s leader.
In a declaration to an Orange County Court, attorney Steve Zelig accuses Grace Foundation Founder Beth DeCaprio of unprecedented bad behavior against him and his staff.
“I have never been treated as badly by a representative of a client. Ms. DeCaprio has been abusive…” wrote Zelig in the complaint.
“This declaration is not pretty. Abuse he claims… disrespect he claims…” said FOX40 Reporter Ben Deci in an interview with DeCaprio.
“And you know, it’s unfortunate,” DeCaprio answered. “All I can say is that I will continue to do what our mission is, which is to protect these animals.”
At issue is a settlement offered to DeCaprio for the money the Grace Foundation has spent to care for the animals. DeCaprio estimates they cost the Foundation $600 a day. Zelig says DeCaprio rejected the settlement because she has her own, material interests in the case.
“Certainly there’s a crossover there, but it’s been very clear to anyone who knows me this is been anything but a benefit to me financially and even with the settlement it gives me nothing personally back,” DeCaprio said.
Zelig is suggesting that the Grace Foundation be taken out of her hands and given to a court appointed receiver.
To be clear, Zelig’s complaint is about how DeCaprio has treated the other humans involved with the case, not the horses.
But DeCaprio told FOX40 Zelig was the real barrier to the settlement being completed. She says that if she had known Zelig had a recent probation from the State Bar of California, she never would have hired him.
A check of California State Bar records indicates Steve Zelig was put on a two year probation in Febraury 2012 after stipulating to six violations of the rules guiding attorney conduct.
At the end of our interview, DeCaprio told FOX40 that she would sign the settlement agreement immediately, and email it to all the parties involved.
“I hope they receive it and accept it,” she said.