Caroline Roffman, 2012 FEI “Rising Star,” Being Sued in Florida for Alleged Fraud in Horse Sale

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Caroline Roffman, File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Oct. 9, 2017–Caroline Roffman, an American horse sales agent, trainer and competitor and the 2010 FEI “Rising Star,” is being sued for alleged fraud and “intentionally” misrepresenting the sale of a horse for $300,000 that the lawsuit claims was sold for $900,000 without informing the owner.

Alice Tarjan of Frenchtown, New Jersey, who has developed and competed numerous horses from youngsters to Grand Prix over the past decade, filed the suit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court here.

The suit names Caroline Roffman, 29 years old, and Lionshare Dressage, LLC both of Wellington, Florida as defendants in the alleged scheme over Fabrege MF, a Hanoverian mare that was six years old when sold in 2015. Alice competed Fabrege at the 2013 U.S. four-year-old championships.

The suit seeks a jury trial of nine counts including fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violations of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Alice is seeking $500,000 in damages for eight of the counts.

According to the suit, Alice Tarjan contacted Caroline Roffman in September, 2015 about handling the sale of Fabrege. Caroline had been the sales agent for Somer Hit and Fairytale, two other horses owned by Alice.

Caroline advised, the suit alleged, that the horse could be sold for between $250,000 to $400,000, depending on performance. The two made an agreement for a 10 per cent sales commission and Fabrege was shipped to Florida from New Jersey in October.

In early November, Caroline informed Alice that Peter Eeckman Horses of Belgium (Peter) had made an offer of $300,000 for Fabrege and would pay a $30,000 commission directly to the defendants, Caroline and Lionshare.

Alice Tarjan in the suit said she questioned the fairness of the price and thought Fabrege was worth about $500,000.

“Roffman advised plaintiff to sell Fabrege to Peter at that price,” the suit stated. “She also represented that Fabrege’s canter and tempis reduced the value and, as a result, $500,000 would be difficult if not impossible to attain.”

Alice agreed to the price. When she did not receive a wire transfer of funds from Belgium, Caroline allegedly said she had confirmation the money had been transferred from Peter’s account but could have been held up because of terrorist alerts. So she paid the $300,000 to Alice.

Caroline asked for the ownership papers to be sent to an address in Wellington that turned out to be owned by her father.

“Unbeknownst to plaintiff, Roffman actually sold Fabrege to Bethany Peslar and/or Everglades Dressage LLC (Peslar) for $900,000,” the suit alleged.

“Endel L. Ots (‘Ots’), a former partner of Roffman’s and former manager of Lionshare, is Peslar’s trainer.

“Ots, at defendant’s direction, misrepresented to Peslar that Peter was the seller of Fabrege.

“Ots, at defendant’s direction, instructed Peslar to wire transfer the purchase price of $900,000 for Fabrege to Peter’s bank account.

“Peter retained $10,000 from the funds transferred by Peslar as a fee for use of its bank account to funnel the Fabrege sale money and sent the remaining funds received from Peslar, $890,000, to Roffman.

“Peter never bought Fabrege or paid any money for Fabrege.

“Defendants knew Peter never owned Fabrege and used Peter as subterfuge for defendants to make an illegal profit from the sale of Fabrege.

“Roffman intentionally misrepresented to plaintiff (a) the sale price for Fabrege was $300,000 and (b) the identify of Fabrege’s buyer in order to illegally obtain $600,000.00 for herself and Lionshare.”