Orange County District Attorney’s Office Recognized for Excellence
in the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty Cases
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler was presented with an “Award of Excellence” by the New York State Humane Association on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at the District Attorney’s Office. Patricia Valusek, President of the New York State Humane Association, stated that the award was presented to recognize “the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, headed by District Attorney David Hoovler, for its commitment to finding justice for nine horses who died of starvation, on the Ryan farm in Goshen,” and also stated that “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office vigorous and precedent-setting prosecution was supported by well-researched case law and resulted in guilty verdicts on all counts.”
On July 24, 2018, Jeanne Ryan, a former New York City Police Officer who had 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. On September 6, 2018, Ryan was sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed under the law for nine of the ten felony counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, and for all ten counts of Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals. Consistent with the District Attorney’s recommendation, Ryan was sentenced to a conditional discharge on one of the felony counts, to help ensure that she is prevented from owning animals during the pendency of any appeals on the case. Judge Freehill also issued an order prohibiting Ryan from owning or possessing animals for fifteen years. An equine rescue society that took possession of the surviving horse received a restitution order for expenses incurred for their care of the starving horse. Ryan’s conviction required her to register with the Orange County Animal Abuse Registry, which will prevent her from owning animals in Orange County.
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek and Assistant District Attorney Anika Mohammed for their prosecution of the Ryan case.
During the presentation of the award, officials from the New York State Humane Association noted District Attorney Hoovler’s long-standing commitment to the prosecution of animal abuse cases, including his ground-breaking prosecution in 2004 as an Orange County Assistant District Attorney of James Frichionne, who had run a dog-fighting operation in Westtown, New York. Frichionne was sentenced to two to seven years in prison on that case, and over the years Hoovler has been sought out by prosecutors around the country for advice on prosecuting dog-fighting cases.
“I thank the New York State Humane Association for their commitment to fighting animal cruelty, and for recognizing with this award my office’s continuing commitment to prosecuting animal abuse,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “In my opinion, the current law does not provide adequate punishment for instances of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, such as those proven in the case against Jeanne Ryan. My office will continue to appropriately prosecute animal abuse cases, including providing whatever resources are necessary to ensure the effective prosecution of these cases. The appropriate prosecution of these cases depends on many factors, including how egregious the abuse was; whether the defendant was acting intentionally, recklessly or negligently; and whether the animals were being kept as pets or for agricultural purposes. I am grateful to all our law enforcement partners, including the Hudson Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and for all the volunteer groups such as the New York State Humane Association and equine rescue societies for sharing their advice and expertise as we investigate and prosecute animal abuse cases.”
The New York Humane Association also issued a press release concerning the award.