The judge overseeing what happens to Beth Lynne Hoskins’ horses will appoint two receivers, instead of one, to care for and ultimately sell 29 of her 64 horses he first ordered to be sold more than a year ago.
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia – under fire by the SPCA Serving Erie County and Hoskins’ critics for not being tough enough on her in the past – announced late Tuesday that he had interviewed several receivers and will appoint two to oversee feeding and caring for them, have them appraised and arrange their sale.
Glownia’s plan follows two days of testimony by seven witnesses, including Hoskins and SPCA Director Barbara S. Carr, to determine what caused the 29 horses to be taken back to Hoskins’ farm in Aurora from a Lockport stable where she had placed them, instead of transferring them to a Rochester horse farm that was under contract to buy them for $50,000.
The receivers also will oversee the care of the other 35 horses in her herd that she is allowed to keep. But that could change, the judge had warned in late December, if proceeds from selling the 29 horses do not fully cover administrative costs for the receivership, care and feeding of the horses, appraisals, and preparing them for sale.
“I do not want the names publicly disclosed at this time. Is that clear?” Glownia said firmly to Hoskins’ attorney, George V.C. Muscato, and SPCA attorney Ralph C. Lorigo.
Hoskins was convicted in criminal court of 52 counts of animal cruelty in 2013 for the neglect of many of her Morgan horses at her Aurora farm. In the civil case, Glownia had ordered that Hoskins cannot own more than 35 horses. The high-profile case began in March 2010 when the SPCA raided her farm.
The judge said he wants a proposed order to be worked out with the attorneys Wednesday and put into effect “as soon as possible” so specific directives can be shared with the receivers.
Glownia also said he will review the hearing testimony to determine why the 29 horses were sent back to Hoskins’ farm the day after Christmas, and whether further punishment for contempt is appropriate for Hoskins for violation of his earlier order. He also will decide whether the SPCA deserves any sanctions if he determines the agency breached the confidentiality of the sale contract between Hoskins, Emery Farm Trust and the buyer, Jennifer Hartwell, a Hoskins friend who owns Skyloft Morgan Farm in Scottsville, Monroe County.
Lorigo said in a later interview that he didn’t believe that the SPCA overstepped its bounds when Carr contacted Monroe County animal welfare officials in mid-December to inquire whether Hartwell’s farm could accommodate 29 more horses.
“It is my job as director of the SPCA to be concerned about these animals,” Carr testified under questioning from Glownia. “I thought we were done (with the case), and we were not.”
Hoskins and Hartwell insisted separately that Hartwell currently owns the 29 horses and has since late August, after the two women agreed to a $50,000 contract. Neither woman could be pinned down in court about the whereabouts of Hartwell’s original down payment or whether it ever changed hands between them.
Hoskins also said that it was Hartwell who decided over Christmas that the 29 horses should be moved to Hoskins’ farm from Lockport instead of to Hartwell’s farm. Hoskins said she told the hauler to move the horses to her farm at Hartwell’s request.
Hoskins testified she didn’t know what happened to Hartwell’s original down-payment check and said Hartwell had to print it from her home computer because she didn’t have a checkbook. Hoskins testified the check was never in her possession and that she didn’t take it from Hartwell. “I didn’t think I needed to,” Hoskins said.
Hoskins’ friend Jean R. Knox, also a trustee of the horse farm trust that Hoskins put in place, agreed to lend Hartwell the $50,000 to buy Hoskins’ 29 horses. The down-payment check came in December.