ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Talk to Melanie Omer and she'll tell you about her charitable, horse-related programs that have helped Albuquerque's underprivileged children.
"I've changed so many kids lives by my programs," Omer told News 13 in 2005.
But talk to people she's done business with and rented property from over the years and you'll hear a different story.
"When I evicted her, a lot of equipment seemed to disappear at the same time that she left," said James Turpin, co-owner of Diamante Equestrian Center in Placitas.
Turpin said the 20-25 horses Omer boarded at the facility in 2006 chewed through fences and destroyed property. Omer never paid for the expensive repairs, he said.
Adriana Foris told a similar story. She won a court judgment against Omer for $3,000 for damage done to a rental house where Omer kept horses and numerous dogs.
"When she left the place was a mess," Foris said. "My son in law had to clean up inches of stuff off the floor in one of the rooms."
In 2005, Omer leased land from Bernalillo County in Albuquerque's North Valley for an equestrian center where she ran community programs, summer camps and charity clinics. But the county ended up evicting her after discovering she had too many horses living there, and neighbors complained about large amounts of dust and flies.
Then there's Larraine Yeager's story.
Yeager said she boarded her horse, Willow, at a rental house in the Albuquerque area where Omer lived. On Feb. 7, when Yeager decided to move the horse, Omer told her the horse had died a week and a half earlier.
"Are you kidding?" Yeager said, recalling the moment. "You're telling me that my horse is dead? And she said, ‘Yes and I'm so very sorry.' "
Omer refused to tell Yeager where she disposed of the horse's 1,000 pound body. Yeager said she believes Omer sold the 21-year-old horse instead. Yeager filed a report asking the New Mexico Livestock Board to look into the allegations.
People are now posting fliers offering a $500 reward for information about Willow.
"Apparently there's been other horses that went missing in her care ... that may have been sold," Yeager said.
There have been several civil judgments against Omer including at least one restraining order from a former business partner.
Omer declined to speak to News 13 on camera, and ran from a reporter and photographer who attempted to talk to her after a recent hearing at Metropolitan Court in Albuquerque.
Her attorney, John Miller, said Omer has "got a lot on her plate right now."
"She was just very shy, just very camera shy," Miller said. "And I'm sure she will be vindicated once all these matters are resolved."
On the phone a couple of days before the hearing, Omer told News 13 she will fight back against the allegations and may sue people for allegedly ruining her reputation. She said she is not boarding horses anymore and plans to pay back the people she owes.
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