06/18/2010 12:00AM

Paragallo freed pending appeal


Ernie Paragallo, the New York horse owner and breeder who was sentenced to two years in jail on animal cruelty charges in May, was released from jail on Thursday afternoon after his attorney filed a motion to appeal the sentence.

Paragallo left a Greene County jail at 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday after posting bail of $10,000. According to his attorney, David Seth Michaels, Paragallo will remain free until a judge rules on his appeal, a process that will likely take eight months.

Paragallo was taken into custody on May 18 after Judge George Pulver of the Greene County District Court sentenced him to two years in jail and a $33,000 fine on 33 counts of animal-cruelty charges, the maximum sentence allowed in the case. Paragallo had been found guilty of the charges in a jury trial that concluded in early March.

Michaels would not discuss specifics of Paragallo's appeal.

"I don't want to talk about it yet out of an abundance of concern for the process," Michael said.

The appeal is due four months after the motion was first filed. The Greene County District Attorney, which brought the case, will then have six weeks to respond to the appeal, and Paragallo's counsel will then have two weeks to respond to the D.A.'s argument. A hearing would likely be scheduled for December, but the appellate judge could take anywhere from several weeks to six months to issue a ruling.

The case against Paragallo was brought following a raid on his Center Brook farm in Climax, N.Y., in April, 2009. Officials for the local humane society, who ultimately took control of 177 horses on the farm, alleged after the raid that horses on the farm were malnourished and suffering from skin parasites.

Paragallo surrendered his racing license after the raid. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board is currently conducting an investigation into whether Paragallo hid the ownership of some of the horses who raced under the stable name used by his family, Paraneck Stable, and is also considering a levy of $5,000 against Paragallo for every animal-cruelty conviction. A hearing to consider the fines is scheduled for June 24.