Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paragallo Looses Appeal: Banned from Racing for Life

Convicted thoroughbred abuser Ernest Paragallo is out of the horse racing business for good Published: Saturday, April 02, 2011 By PAUL POST The Saratogian SARATOGA SPRINGS — Convicted former thoroughbred owner Ernest Paragallo is out of the racing business for good. The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected his legal appeal, meaning he must serve the remainder of his two-year jail term. In addition, the state Racing and Wagering Board ruled that Paragallo can never again hold an owner’s or agent’s license and permanently banned him from New York racetracks, even as a spectator. Paragallo was convicted last March on 33 counts of animal cruelty following the shocking April 2009 raid of his Greene County farm where 177 diseased, neglected horses were found, several of which had to be euthanized. "I wish there was more we could do to him," racing commissioner Daniel Hogan said. "I hope he spends the rest of his life paying for what he did. It’s a black eye on the sport of racing." Fellow board member Charles Diamond said, "The Legislature, in my opinion, should consider treatment of horses in this manner a felony." At present, equine animal cruelty is a misdemeanor in New York. State Sen. Roy J. McDonald, R-Saratoga, has co-sponsored a bill that would make it a felony with more severe penalties. Lawmakers have been tied up hammering out a state budget that was approved early Thursday morning. However, McDonald said his bill will be voted on before the legislature concludes business on June 20. Mike and Mary Anne Macica of Saratoga Springs adopted three of Paragallo’s horses and several more went to the Saratoga Springs-based Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Greene County District Attorney Terry Wilhelm said Paragallo, who is free on bail, must appear in court soon although a date hasn’t been set. From there, barring an appeal, he would go straight to jail. Wilhelm said he doubts the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, would allow an appeal, but that it’s up the judges’ discretion. Continued... Last May, County Court Judge George Pulver sentenced Paragallo to the maximum penalty — two years in jail and $33,000 in fines, $1,000 for each count. Paragallo has already served one month. Prisoners are typically given one month off for every two months served, so Paragallo might only serve 16 months total, or 15 more. Neither he nor his attorney were present at Thursday’s racing board meeting in Schenectady. The criminal case dealt strictly with Paragallo’s charges of animal cruelty. His appeal didn’t challenge his conviction, but said the court’s pre-sentencing report was inflammatory and prejudicial, a claim justices rejected. "We are unpersuaded that the report improperly advocated for the maximum sentence," justices said in their decision. The racing board considered Paragallo’s animal cruelty charges. However, they were more concerned with Paragallo’s continued ownership of horses that were racing after he lost his owner’s license in March 2005. Such evidence came to light following an in-depth review of his operations following the April 2009 raid. Board Chairman John Sabini said he hopes other states follow New York’s lead and prohibit him from any future racing involvement. "The racing industry is better off without the likes of Mr. Paragallo," he said. --------

1 comment:

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