Horse breeder and racehorse owner Ernie Paragallo was sentenced this week to two years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines for starving and maltreating 177 horses on his farm in Greene County.
Paragallo, a prominent member of the horse racing community, was exposed after a chain of events that reached into Oswego County.
Lisa Leogrande, who operates Triple L Stables in Granby, noticed some of Paragallo’s horses as they waited in a killpen to be slaughtered.Â Horse meat remains a delicacy in some parts of the world.
The killpen owner would not kill the horses because of their condition and called Leogrande.
She took three of the horses home to her horse boarding facility and got other rescue groups to take as many of the other horses as could be saved.
Leogrande told Oswego County Today (in an article lost to a server crash) and later testified in court that the horses were in very bad shape — covered in lice and sores, fighting digestive worms and malnutrition.Â They were hundreds of pounds lighter than adult horses should be.
Nearly all of the adopted horses have recovered.
Paragallo’s Paraneck Stables has put more than 4,000 racehorses into the industry, generating more than $20 million in winnings.
He denied that he mistreated the horses but said his staff may have done so.
â€œYour moral compass is out of kilter and points you in improper directions,â€ Greene County Judge George Pulver, Jr. told Paragallo at his sentencing. â€œYour sense of integrity, your code of conduct, your perception of right and wrong was perhaps formed by your days on either mean streets or Wall Street.â€
His lawyer plans to appeal.
Our photos of the rescued horses from April, 2009: