In some of the most telling testimony Monday in the Beth Lynne Hoskins civil case, horse farm co-trustee Jean Knox testified that she didn’t know much at all about the trust and that she never saw a bill of sale for half of the horses that were to have been sold more than a year ago.
Under questioning from Ralph C. Lorigo, attorney for the SPCA Serving Erie County, Knox said she had loaned Hoskins, a personal friend, more than $50,000 but probably not more than $100,000 of her own money – but that she wasn’t sure of the exact total.
“I have loaned Beth money. Beth worked for the Sabres,” said Knox, widow of Seymour H. Knox III, founder of the Buffalo Sabres, a friend of Hoskins for more than 20 years and godmother to Hoskins’ daughter, Alex. “I feel very strongly where this is a situation where Beth needed the money and I would help her.”
Knox appeared to know very little of the details of the trust other than that she bore some fiduciary responsibility a year ago with Hans Mobias, a Clarence horseman who was appointed co-trustee but has resigned, since there has no longer been any Hoskins money funding the trust. Knox characterized the fund as extinct and that it ran out of money within the first few months after being formed.
Knox appeared vague about the trust set up late in 2014 at the direction of the court to help ensure the care of Hoskins’ herd of Morgan horses, which totaled 68 at that time, and said she just signed her name on a piece of paper provided by Hoskins’ attorney because it happened fast and when Hoskins was going to jail for 60 days in December 2014 as a result of a criminal case.
Hoskins was convicted of 52 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in criminal court in 2013 stemming from a March 2010 raid by the SPCA of her horse farm in Aurora where 73 horses were found in what investigators described as deplorable conditions.
Knox said she did not know Jennifer Hartwell of Skyloft Morgan Farm in Scottsville, but in December she had written a $5,000 downpayment check for her for the court-brokered Dec. 22 sale of 29 of Hoskins’ horses to Hartwell that never occurred.
Knox also said she is still willing to pay the remaining $45,000 owed on the failed Hartwell purchase of Hoskins’ 29 horses.
Monday’s hearing before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia was supposed to be two-fold: To determine whether any validity remained in the $50,000 contract with Hartwell and to address accusations by Hoskins’ attorney that the SPCA interfered with the sale by contacting Monroe County animal welfare officials to inquire about Skyloft Farm a week before the sale was brokered with the judge.
But when Glownia opened the hearing, he said it was to determine what caused Hoskins’ 29 horses to be transferred from a Lockport farm, where they had been housed temporarily, back to Hoskins’ farm on Emery Road in Aurora.
Since the deal between Hoskins and Hartwell, Glownia called both sides into court and insisted he would appoint a receiver for the 29 horses while Hoskins remains allowed to keep no more than 35 horses. During Monday morning’s court session, there was no mention of a receiver that Glownia on Dec. 29 he would be appointing for the 29 horses Hoskins still needs to sell.
SPCA officials have pointed out several contradictions of the Hartwell sale. In mid-December Hartwell told Lollypop Farm, Greater Humane Society of Rochester, that she did not intend to take additional horses at her farm, which has 30 to 40 horses with eight stalls. Yet she testified to Glownia Dec. 22 in his chambers that she would buy them, SPCA officials said. Adding to the swirl of contradictions is that her farm’s website twice referred to her plans to downsize her herd in Scottsville.
The judge most recently admonished the SPCA for disclosing the specifics of the sealed Hartwell sale, but SPCA authorities said Marie Bennett, owner of Foxhunt Stables in Lockport, had leaked specifics of it. But in a Dec. 15 court order calling for all of Hoskins’ 64 horses to be put in receivership if the 29 were not sold by Dec. 21, Glownia identified Skyloft Morgan Farm as the purchaser of those horses.