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Hoskins says 29 horses are sold, as ordered

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Western New York woman who has been in a legal saga since her conviction on dozens of counts of animal cruelty was back in State Supreme Court on Tuesday. While Beth Lynne Hoskins says she has sold 29 horses, as ordered, local SPCA officials are concerned about the deal.

Hoskins says the horses will be transferred to a farm owner in Monroe County. The buyer's name was not revealed publicly but the price was, according to sources in the Erie County Courthouse, $50,000 for the horses.

"The identity of the buyer has been sealed by the court," Hoskins said to reporters following a meeting held privately in the chambers of Judge Joseph Glownia. "I'm not really at liberty to get into the details."

Back in 2013, Hoskins was convicted of 52 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in Town of Aurora court. Earlier this year, 29 horses were placed in care of a Lockport-based farm owner, identified by SPCA officials as Marie Bennett of Heaven on Earth Farm. She was not in court for Tuesday's proceeding.

Hoskins' attorney, George Muscato, told reporters that Bennett has been compensated $9,000 and is owed a few thousand more. 

Erie County SPCA officials are expressing concerns about the Monroe County buyer, an individual they say already has up to 40 horses on site and is about to take on more, with inadequate facilities to accommodate them.

"She's accepting 29, according to what we heard today," said SPCA executive director Barbara Carr. "And there are eight stalls. This is what the inspector is telling me from Rochester."

Hoskins is accusing the SPCA of meddling in what they feel should have been a smoother transaction had it been kept private. 

"What concerns me is the draconian abuse of power that the SPCA continually uses throughout this entire process," Hoskins said. "Not just here, but everywhere."

Local SPCA officials confirmed they contacted their counterparts in Monroe County to check on the facilities owned by the reported buyer. They told reporters that they were merely doing the due diligence that the courts should have been doing all along. 

They contend the 29 horses' stay in Lockport, which began in August, was only supposed to be for about two weeks until a supposed sale was closed and the horses moved to Rochester.

"The court lost 29 horses for four months. They didn't know where they were. They didn't allow us, and they withheld that information from both the Erie County SPCA and the Niagara County SPCA," said Erie County SPCA board member Danielle Jacobs. "Everyone just assumed that these horses were fine and transferred to Rochester when, in fact, they were not. That was the responsibility of the court to know that information, to be able to confirm the transfer and to be able to confirm the sale of those horses. They didn't do it."

Muscato, when asked whether the horses will still be in Lockport heading into the new year, told reporters "in two weeks the horses won't be in Lockport."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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