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Owner Paragallo indicted on animal cruelty charges

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  • Owner Paragallo indicted on animal cruelty charges

    by Paul Post - The Blood Horse

    Thoroughbred owner Ernest Paragallo faces the possibility of up to two years in jail and a $35,000 fine following his indictment Thursday on 35 counts of animal cruelty.

    The charges stem from the April 8 raid at his Center Brook Farm in Climax, New York, where authorities seized 177 starving and neglected horses, three of which had to be euthanized.

    Paragallo, free on $5,000 bail, is scheduled for arraignment in Greene County Court in Catskill on August 18.

    From the outset, the case generated national media attention and shocked reaction as images of the diseased, starving horses became public. Approximately 100 animals have been placed with equine rescue groups and responsible owners, while about 70 horses are still at the farm. Saratoga Springs-based Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation also took several of Paragallo’s horses.

    Paragallo, 51, told the New York Times recently that he has no interest in a plea bargain, that there is no basis for the charges, and that he might sue Columbia-Greene Humane Society, which led the April 8 raid with state police.

    “Based on that, it doesn’t sound like there will be a plea bargain,” Greene County District Attorney Terry Wilhelm said. If the case goes to trial, court proceedings would start in about six months, in Catskill.

    Paragallo’s attorney, Michael Howard of Hudson, did not return a call for comment.

    Under state law, equine cruelty is a misdemeanor. The most time he could spend behind bars, even for multiple counts, is two years. However, he could be fined $35,000--$1,000 for each count.

    New York Racing Association has already prohibited Paragallo from racing, and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board has stripped him of his agent’s license. “It’s clear now that the situation would have only worsened had there not been intervention at that time,” board Chairman John Sabini said.

    Paragallo’s financial success in racing has made this year’s revelations all the more baffling to many observers. His horses have won $20.6-million in purses and he is a half-owner of Unbridled’s Song, one of the industry’s most successful sires, who commanded a $125,000 fee during the 2009 breeding season.

    “I’m thrilled,” Humane Society President Ron Perez said of the indictment. “My goal is to get as many horses off that farm as possible and to have this guy away from horses forever. He’s in deep now.”

    Paragallo was originally charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty. The indictment included 13 additional counts involving:

    * two horses euthanized at the farm in February, prior to Paragallo’s arrest. Authorities learned about those horses during the course of their investigation;

    * seven horses that out-of-state rescue groups secured from a Central New York “kill pen,” part of a larger group of about 24 horses from Paragallo’s farm. Paragallo says he thought the horses were headed to Florida, not the kill pen, Wilhelm said. It is believed horses not rescued from the group were sent to Canada for slaughter, he said.

    * two neglected horses, owned by a different party, that were taken from the farm on April 4, four days before the raid; and

    * two horses still at the farm that have allegedly been denied adequate medical care – one for a hernia, another for lameness.

    The Columbia-Greene Humane Society has overseen care of the farm’s horses with Jerry Bilinski, D.V.M., a former chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. As recently as early July, some horses needed grain to supplement their hay and pasture grass diets, Perez said. About ten days ago, however, Howard notified the Columbia-Greene Humane Society that it was no longer allowed at the farm.

    Perez said an initial search warrant had expired that allowed his group access to the site.

    “We’re not going to abandon that farm,” Perez said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they’re being cared for properly.”

    This guy is really a low life. How can he sleep at night? There is apparently no remorse on his part and he seems indifferent to the health of the remaining horses. At least his racing days in NY are over.

  • #2
    Already a 4 page discussion on this topic here ....


    • Original Poster

      I tried opening that link, it would not open, but I remember commenting on that one as well. There had not been an indictment as yet...

      The indictment came yesterday, so too the article from The Blood Horse.