FARMINGTON — A Bloomfield woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to selling another woman's horse named Gator and then telling the woman Gator was dead.

Rebecca Trujillo, 48, was convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement and paid $2,000 in restitution in Farmington Magistrate Court on Wednesday morning. She also agreed to pay $373 in fines and court costs.

As a condition of her plea agreement, prosecutors reduced the embezzlement charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Adam Bell, Trujillo's attorney, said Trujillo accepted the plea agreement because it brought an end to a complex and convoluted case. But Trujillo doesn't admit to lying that Gator was dead, he said.

"I've had murder cases that were less complicated than this," Bell said.

Trujillo was arrested in January after the New Mexico Livestock Board said she illegally sold Cheyenne Strode's horse, Gator, to Bill Deming for $1,500.

Trujillo had agreed that Gator could stay on her property in Bloomfield and that Strode would allow Trujillo's grandchildren to ride him "because Gator was so easy to ride," John Mares, a law enforcement officer for the livestock board, said in his police report.

In exchange, the report says, Strode could ride Trujillo's horses in competitions and would pay Trujillo for Gator's feed.

Trujillo allegedly told Strode in May 2012 that Gator had slit his knee open and she had sent him to a ranch to heal but while he was there the horse died, Mares said.

On Dec.


31, Strode said she was contacted by a woman via Facebook who was inquiring about Gator because she had seen him at a ranch in Farmington, according to court documents. Strode contacted the livestock board which started the investigation that led to Trujillo's arrest.

"She was entrusted with a horse and she sold the horse," Deputy District Attorney Ron Brambl said.

Bell said that Trujillo was the victim of an American West tradition of ending a business deal with a handshake. He said Strode asked Trujillo to sell Gator because the horse kept injuring his knee.

"This is a bad western United States business practice," Bell said. "Horse people are classic western people. They do everything on a handshake over a fence post."

He said Trujillo sold Gator to Deming for $1,500 and paid Strode's father $400. She kept the other $1,100 because Strode didn't pay for all of Gator's care when he was at Trujillo's ranch.

Trujillo agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution to Deming to cover the $1,500 he paid for Gator and $500 he spent feeding and training him.

The livestock board confiscated Gator during the investigation and kept him at an undisclosed location.

Now that the case is settled, Brambl said Strode and Gator will be reunited.