RAYMOND – The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office has charged a Raymond woman with impersonating a federal law enforcement officer in order to obtain someone else’s horse last month.

According to Jessica Jackson, animal control officer for the towns of Casco, Naples and Raymond, Julie Sutherland of Leach Hill Road faces up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 if convicted.

According to sheriff’s Capt. Don Goulet, Sutherland was summonsed for “impersonating a law enforcement officer,” and has a court date in Bridgton District Court in May. Sutherland was not taken into custody, Goulet said.

“The gist of it was she was portraying herself as a federal (animal) welfare agent,” Goulet said. “And as a result of that, the horse was turned over to Sutherland.”

According to news reports of the incident, the horse was being boarded in Baldwin, but was owned by a woman in Casco.

Goulet said the horse has since been “taken into custody by the official welfare people,” but declined to say where the horse is now. Goulet declined to name the horse’s owner, as well, saying the matter was still under investigation and would release few details.

Sutherland, who has feuded with local animal control officers, as well as animal shelter operators in the past, declined to comment on the charges.

“Speak to my lawyer,” she said, but didn’t specify the name of her attorney.

Dana Desjardins, a friend of Sutherland, who has heard her side of the story, said that Sutherland felt the horse was malnourished.

“According to Julie, the horse was underweight by quite a bit,” he said. “Julie has a great passion for animals, and she’ll go above and beyond to help save animals that are mistreated.”

Desjardins said that he does not believe that Sutherland impersonated a federal agent. He said that Sutherland has a certification to handle animals.

“She was there for the welfare of the animal, and the person signed it over,” Desjardins said. “She did sign the document. I don’t know what kind of document she signed, but she did sign the document.”

Desjardins portrayed the charge against Sutherland as the latest chapter in an “ongoing feud.”

“This goes way back with the rooster thing in Raymond,” Desjardins said. “Julie’s a firecracker and she fought for her rights as an animal owner in a rural part of Raymond. She won, and sometimes when you win, there’s payback.”

In 2012, Raymond residents narrowly defeated a proposal that would have imposed fines on owners whose animals make noise lasting longer than 10 minutes. The noise ordinance was proposed by Leach Hill Road resident Wayne Gelston after Sutherland brought home 25 roosters to her 3.8-acre hobby farm across the street.

In 2013, Sutherland was charged by backup Raymond Animal Control Officer Bobby Silcott with animal cruelty for not providing medical attention to a cat she was fostering for Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg. She was later cleared of any wrongdoing in court.

Goulet said the sheriff’s office is well acquainted with Sutherland at this point.

“I could tell you that the sheriff’s office is familiar with Ms. Sutherland as a result of prior issues that she had with animals,” Goulet said. “I wouldn’t necessarily portray her as an animal activist.”

Desjardins said that he had advised Sutherland to fight the charges.

“When you go up against Goliath sometimes you got to throw a little David in there and fight back,” he said. “If you don’t fight back you get gobbled up.”

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