Orange County News
For Immediate Release Contact: Christopher Borek
September 6, 2018 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
Goshen Woman Sentenced to Maximum After Being Found Guilty of Ten Felony Counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals and Ten Counts of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals, in Connection with the Death of Nine Horses and the Mistreatment of Another Horse
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday September 6, 2018, Jeanne Ryan, 52, of Goshen, was sentenced to multiple concurrent sentences of two years in the Orange County Jail in connection with the death of nine horses, and the mistreatment of a tenth horse, which survived. On July 24, 2018, Ryan, a former New York City Police Officer who retired on a disability pension, was found guilty after a bench trial before Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill of ten felony counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals. Ryan was also convicted of ten misdemeanor counts of Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals, for underfeeding the same animals. Ryan has been remanded to the Orange County Jail since her conviction.
The maximum sentence which the law allows for the felony of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals is two years in jail. The maximum sentence which the law allows for Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals is one year in jail. Under New York State law a defendant can serve no more than two years in jail. On September 6, 2018, prosecutors recommended that Ryan be sentenced to the maximum sentence for nine of the ten felony counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, and for all ten counts of Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals. The District Attorney recommended that Ryan be sentenced to a conditional discharge on one of the felony counts to help assure that she may not own animals during the pendency of any appeals on the case. Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill sentenced Ryan to the maximum of two years in the Orange County Jail on each of the first nine counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, and one year in the Orange County Jail on each of the ten counts of Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals. By operation of law those sentences must run concurrently. Judge Freehill also issued an order with a conditional discharge on one of the felony counts which prohibits Ryan from owning, of being in possession of any animals for fifteen years. The District Attorney recommended that one of the equine rescue societies that took possession of the surviving horse receive restitution for expenses incurred for their care of the starving horse. A restitution hearing is scheduled for October 2, 2018. Ryan was also informed that her conviction requires her to register with the Orange County Animal Abuse Registry, which will prevent her from owning animals in Orange County.
On July 29, 2017, investigators from the Hudson Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“HVSPCA”), with the assistance of the Town of Goshen Police Department, executed a search warrant at the barn located at Ryan’s residence in the Town of Goshen. Inside the barn they discovered the severely decomposed remains of five horses, as well as a severely emaciated, though live, horse. Ryan was issued an appearance ticket made returnable in the Town of Goshen Court on September 13, 2017, for one misdemeanor animal cruelty charge.
A second search warrant was executed at Ryan’s farm by the Town of Goshen Police Department, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s Criminal Investigations Division, and the HVSPCA. Among the items recovered were Ryan’s cellular telephone, which was searched by the New York State Police Computer Crimes Unit. The results of that search were analyzed by the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center and messages between Ryan and her son pertaining to the care of the horses were introduced into evidence at the trial.
When Ryan appeared in Town Court, the District Attorney’s Office announced that it would be presenting the case to a grand jury to consider additional charges. Following a grand jury investigation, the grand jury issued a twenty-count indictment, alleging that between March 1, 2016, and July 29, 2017, Ryan subjected ten horses to “aggravated cruelty.” “Aggravated cruelty” is defined under the law as conduct that either caused the horses extreme physical pain or was carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek and Assistant District Attorney Anika Mohammed, who prosecuted the case.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the Hudson Valley SPCA, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the New York State Police Computer Crimes Unit, the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center, and the Town of Goshen Police Department for their work on the case and their investigation.
District Attorney Hoovler also thanked the volunteer equine rescue organizations who aided in the initial search warrant execution and who cared for the emaciated horse that was rescued.
“In my opinion the current law does not provide for adequate punishment for instances of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals as were proven in this case,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The judge’s decision to sentence this defendant to the maximum sentences that he law allows was just and proper in light of this defendant’s conduct in systematically starving ten horses, nine of which died. But for the intervention of the Town of Goshen Police Department and the HVSPCA, the tenth horse would also have certainly starved to death. As a society we cannot tolerate the mistreatment of horses or other companion animals, which cannot protect themselves. Animal abuse cases are a high priority in my office and we will continue to work with the SPCA and our other law enforcement partners to protect animals from neglect and abuse. The assistance of the volunteer equine rescue societies who aided the HVSPCA, and who cared for the surviving horse, were crucial, not only for caring for the surviving animal, but also for aiding in the prosecution of the case.”
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.