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Halfsies!

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Muente wired 27,000 euros — $32,479 at the time — to pay for the horse he planned to rename As Di Bambino. When Bam Bam was in quarantine, Muente says, Arnett changed her mind and asked if the two could own the horse in partnership.

"Once she knew that I had bought the horse, she said she wanted to be part-owner," Muente testifies. "The commission, expenses, purchase price, everything — I said the value of the horse would be $60,000."

Arnett, apparently not realizing the price was Muente's, not the horse's European owner's, wrote a check for $30,000, and the two traveled to Europe a second time in November 2005. Muente says Arnett went back because she still wanted to buy horses; Arnett says it was another vacation.

Muente says Arnett agreed to buy two other horses on that second trip — Uceko and Larius — spending about $350,000 on both.

Either way, once they returned, Muente discovered the check had not cleared.

"The deal ended the moment the check bounced — she knew that," Muente says. "I told her that over the phone."

After about five hours on the stand, Muente's stamina has been sorely tested. A grumpy court reporter repeatedly barks at Muente to speak more slowly. And one of Arnett's three lawyers, New York attorney Cory E. Friedman, objects to so many of Chapman's questions on direct examination that Muente starts looking furtively at him before answering anything posed by his own attorney.

Muente rented three stalls on Arnett's behalf at the Littlewood Farms stables in Wellington for last year's winter season, accommodations for Bam Bam, Uceko, and Larius. But Arnett never paid for Uceko or Larius or their boarding fees, Muente says. She made repeated promises that she'd settle up, he adds. And according to Arnett, she had no idea why Muente believed she ever had a few hundred thousand dollars to spend on horses, nor did she know why he had said she ever agreed to buy any horse other than Bam Bam.

"She told me she wired the money [for the two other horses] but said her accounts were frozen by the feds after 9/11 because of her dad," Muente testifies.

Huh?

It was like a firecracker going off in the courtroom. Arnett and her lawyers looked stunned. Yes, her father is a Harvard-educated chemist, and she had talked about her admiration for him with Muente and others. But, Arnett insisted, Muente's claim that she had ever mentioned 9/11 or frozen bank accounts was "a complete fabrication."

As the deal between Arnett and Muente appeared to take on the scale and complexity of the merger between Time-Warner and AOL, Judge Marra looked increasingly impatient, glancing frequently at the courtroom clock and at his law clerk.

On Muente's behalf, two others took the witness stand to testify on day three of the hearing about Arnett's weirdo terrorism excuse.

Müller, the German horse broker and veterinarian, said he'd shared with Muente his doubts about Arnett's intentions from the beginning.

"I asked him several times if she was serious," says Müller, who, like Muente, also resembles George Hamilton — though his tan is a bit darker and he is larger-boned. "I asked Pato if it was worth the effort to bring her to Europe to buy a horse. I asked [her] if she was serious. She said she had a price range of $200,000 to $250,000 and she had more."

Müller testifies that he borrowed money from his family to buy Larius because, he says, Arnett had promised to pay him back once federal agents released her accounts. She sent him a paper confirmation that she had wired him the money, he says, but no money ever arrived.

"I didn't receive any vire," Müller yells. "She made me believe that I will get my money! She came up with another story. She always made us believe that the next day or maybe the next day we would get our money. She said it was at her brother's; he's in Florida. I went to California on business and spoke to her there. She said they had frozen her father's funds... something about nuclear weapons... I don't know exactly. He was under special watch.

"My opinion about Ms. Arnett? She's absolutely not truthful at all."

Müller starts to describe how Arnett cried after riding one of the horses he was showing her, and suddenly the judge has had enough.

"This is the third day of this hearing about a horse that's supposedly worth $30,000 to $60,000," Marra sputters. "You've spent more on attorneys' fees at this point. I don't get it!

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Kelly Cramer

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