Founder of West Deer horse-rescue nonprofit set to plead guilty in federal case
April 3, 2017 2:00 PM
Pam Vivirito, center, of Equine Angels Rescue in West Deer, walks two mares from a home in Butler County. Ms. Vivirito is planning to plead guilty in two schemes -- one for extortion and another for mail fraud.
By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The founder of a popular horse rescue operation charged federally in two schemes is set to admit her guilt next week.
Pam Vivirito, who runs the Equine Angels Rescue in West Deer, indicated today that she will plead guilty April 13 before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.
Ms. Vivirito, 46, is accused of extortion in one scheme in connection with an affair and with mail fraud in another in which she is accused of pilfering money meant for her nonprofit.
She was initially charged in 2015, when a federal grand jury said she extorted property from a businessman with whom she was having an affair by threatening to reveal the relationship to his wife. The man, unidentified in court papers, gave her property to keep the affair secret, according to the FBI, but no details have been revealed.
The grand jury later added five counts of mail fraud, saying she solicited $18,700 for use by her horse rescue operation and used the money for personal expenses. The mail fraud counts relate to payments sent to her for use by the horse charity from four individuals in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.
The U.S. attorney's office does not comment on pending cases, nor does the federal public defender's office, which represents Ms. Vivirito.
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