New York Farm Operator Sentenced

Geraldine Trupia, the operator of a New York breeding farm from which authorities seized a herd of horses in August, appeared in Troupsburg Town Court for sentencing this week. Now she's speaking out on the circumstances of her case.

Trupia was charged in September with five misdemeanor animal cruelty counts after Finger Lakes Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) investigators seized 82 allegedly malnourished horses from her farm on Aug. 29 and 30. Since the seizure, five horses had to euthanized and 77 were placed in foster care. On Oct. 1 Trupia pleaded guilty to two counts of Class A misdemeanor animal cruelty under a plea agreement. She was formally sentenced on Nov. 12 to serve two 3-year supervised probation terms to run concurrently. She was prohibited from working around domestic or companion animals, and she is required to pay restitution for the costs associated with caring for the animals during the seizure.

"I pleaded guilty because I was told that if I didn't I was going to jail," Trupia said. "I have 11 dogs, four cows, a goat, and cats to look after. They depend on me; I can't go to jail."

Trupia said her case began after she had a disagreement with an out-of-state client who removed his horses from her barn.

The client, Herbert McKenzie, was unavailable for comment. But his business associate, Lee Treacy, said McKenzie called the SPCA when he saw photographs of the animals taken by the shipping company hired to remove them from Trupia's farm.

"I know I sent back a skinny horse," Trupia said. "But the mare had just had a terrible time foaling--she couldn't stand and wouldn't eat. I offered to keep her here free of charge as long as necessary for her to improve, but he refused."

As for the horses euthanized by the SPCA, Trupia said she had 10 animals she intended to euthanize due to various preexisting conditions, but had not yet done so when the SPCA began their investigation.

She said she feels the seizure was financially motivated.

"I learned that I am responsible for over $60,000 in restitution to cover the expenses for the (seized) horses," she said. "I believe that this entire seizure was set up to get the funds needed to build the new equine barn that the Finger Lakes is so anxious to have."

SPCA Executive Director Vicki Mosgrove said any restitution funds would go toward covering expenses incurred by horses' foster care providers.

"The funds are for the horses, not for the SPCA," Mosgrove said.

A judge will set final restitution figures during a Dec. 10 court appearance.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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