The New York State Racing and Wagering Board voted unanimously March 31 to permanently bar horse owner and breeder Ernie Paragallo from all racetracks in the Empire State.
Paragallo is serving a two-year sentence after being convicted on 33 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty following a raid at his Center Brook Farm. Also on March 31, Paragallo’s appeal of his conviction was rejected by the appellate division of the state Supreme Court, meaning he will be required to serve the remainder of his sentence.
According to published reports, Paragallo had appealed his conviction because of the questionable contents in the probation report compiled before his sentencing last May 18.
During its meeting, the NYSRWB upheld a hearing officer’s recommendation that Paragallo be permanently barred from ever entering a horse at any track in New York. In addition to the criminal convictions, the move was also based on actions by Paragallo in which his horses were entered in the names of others.
Board chairman John Sabini recommended that the board take the additional step of barring Paragallo from admittance to any racetrack in New York, as an owner, patron, guest, or in any capacity.
“These additional sanctions are warranted by nature and gravity of the matters that gave rise to these proceedings in the first place,” Sabini said. “Somebody like him does not have a place in pari-mutuel wagering or racing, and certainly should not be around animals.”
Board member Charles Diamond call Paragallo’s action “despicable.’’ He urged the New York Legislature to toughen animal cruelty laws to consider the treatment of horses in cases such as Paragallo as felonies and not just misdemeanors.
Diamond also said other states should join in banning Paragallo. “It is my hope that every state will reciprocate with this state and agree that the racing industry is better off without the likes of Mr. Paragallo,’’ Diamond said.
“I wish there was more we could do to him,’’ added board member Daniel Hogan, who visited Paragallo’s farm shortly after word of the abuses of the horses became public.
“I hope that he spends the rest of his life paying for what he did because it’s truly sad and it’s a black mark on horse racing,’’ Hogan said.
In addition to his criminal conviction and ban from New York tracks, Paragallo has been barred from registering any Thoroughbred with The Jockey Club.