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Hearing on Hoskins complicates tangled web

The tangled web in the Beth Lynne Hoskins animal-cruelty case became more complicated Monday as behind-the-scenes details emerged in court, revealing that Jean R. Knox, widow of Buffalo Sabres co-founder Seymour H. Knox III, has been underwriting much of the expenses for Hoskins’ horses.

Knox acknowledged this in her testimony and defended helping Hoskins, whom she said she has known for more than 20 years and is godmother to Hoskins’ daughter.

Appointed a co-trustee of about half of the horses, Knox is the money behind the pending $50,000 sale of nearly half of Hoskins’ horses that State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia first ordered sold more than a year ago. Knox also was paying the bill for a portion of the horses’ care in the last several months.

She also acknowledged that the horse trust for Hoskins now is “sort of extinct” and that she hasn’t been signing checks for the trust.

Under oath, Knox said that she has lent more than $50,000 to Hoskins but probably not more than $100,000. “I have loaned Beth money. Beth worked for the Sabres,” Knox said. “I feel very strongly that this is a situation where Beth needed money and I would help her.”

Knox also said she is prepared to lend all the money needed to complete the $50,000 sale that was pending with the Rochester horsewoman, Jennifer Hartwell, who was supposed to take the horses but didn’t. Hartwell is a friend of Hoskins and the second-generation owner of Skyloft Morgan Farm in Scottsville, Monroe County. But Knox testified that she did not know Hartwell and that she never tried to buy the horses herself last June despite three contract drafts that were before the court, but apparently never signed by her.

Overall, Knox testified, she knew very little of the horse trust arrangement put in place by the court in December 2014 because it happened quickly as Hoskins was heading off to jail for 60 days due to the criminal case. She said she never fully read the trust documents, never sent court-required biweekly progress reports to the court, and didn’t recall seeing a bill of sale for the horses, but felt they would be safe at Hoskins’ Town of Aurora farm.

The other farm trustee, Clarence horseman Hans J. Mobias, was subpoenaed to court but did not show up.

Hoskins, convicted of 52 counts of animal abuse two years ago, now has all her 64 horses back at her Aurora farm, and Glownia has said he will be appointing a receiver to care for and sell the 29 horses that were not sold according to a previous court order by him.

On Monday, the judge said the hearing would determine what caused the horses to be taken back to Hoskins’ Aurora farm, and what, if any, further punishment for contempt against her is appropriate – and if any sanctions are appropriate if the sale contract’s confidentiality was breached as Hoskins’ attorney has alleged.

Hoskins has been allowed by the judge to keep no more than 35 of her horses as stipulated in court agreement reached in 2014.

Monday’s hearing revealed strong contradictions about what was going on among the main players in the latest chapter of the civil case. Knox appeared to have a limited understanding of what her role was as farm trustee and said Hoskins’ attorney at the time just had her sign her name to a document. Further doubts also were cast over whether the 29 horses, while kept at a Lockport farm from August until late December, ever contracted a highly contagious equine disease that Hoskins’ horse veterinarian of 15 years said he never diagnosed but Hoskins’ side has said the horses had.

The veterinarian, Dr. Joseph J. Tashjian, of East Concord, testified that he saw the 29 horses Dec. 3 for only about 30 minutes to look at them in Lockport and did not diagnose them with the highly contagious disease known as strangles. A bacterial culture is needed to confirm it, but was not performed on the animals. Others have suggested they instead had an upper respiratory infection. Hartwell said she did not want the horses on her 30-horse farm if they were sick.

The hearing is expected to resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.