Lawyers: Shirley snake salesman has exit strategy for reptiles

Michael Ralbovsky, a Herpetologist Curator, holds one of Michael Ralbovsky, a Herpetologist Curator, holds one of the illegal 6-foot burmese python's removed from a home at 79 Auborn Avenue in Shirley, N.Y. Acording to officials at the scene, 850 snakes were inside the garage of the home. (Sept. 19, 2013) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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A Brookhaven animal control officer accused of running an illegal reptile-sales business from his Shirley home is moving hundreds of snakes from his garage to a store he plans to open, his lawyer said.

Bohemia attorney Andrew Vecere said town employee Richard Parrinello was to begin removing snakes from the garage this past weekend. The plan is to keep them in a temporary storage facility until Parrinello secures a lease for the store, he said, adding that relocating or selling the 850 snakes is expected to take several weeks.

Parrinello, 44, is considering three store locations where he plans to sell snakes and other exotic animals, Vecere said. The business would be "in a zoned commercial facility" where the reptiles "can be securely and safely housed," he said.

"Hopefully, we have a signed lease shortly," he said. "We're doing everything as quickly as humanly possible."

Authorities found the snakes and other animals, including tarantulas, in Parrinello's garage during a Sept. 19 raid stemming from an investigation into whether he was working another job while on disability leave from his town job. Two 6-foot Burmese pythons -- illegal in New York without a permit -- were removed from the garage.

Brookhaven officials have said Parrinello was operating his Internet-based reptile-sales company, SnakeMan's Exotics, without a permit allowing a business at his home. A state workers' compensation fraud hearing is pending. Parrinello faces two violations of state environmental law.

Deputy town attorney David Moran said Parrinello has a four-week "exit strategy" for removing snakes from the garage. "He is cooperating," Moran said. "It appears he's going to get [some] snakes out this weekend as well as sell a chunk at a snake expo," which Vecere said was to occur this past weekend.

Vecere said he told his client: "Sell as much as you can."

About 500 snakes are expected to be removed from the garage by Friday. The rest will be relocated within several weeks, Vecere said. Moving the snakes is complicated because it is the end of the reptiles' breeding season, when it is more difficult to move female snakes caring for their eggs, Vecere said. He said the snakes sold by Parrinello can average six eggs per female.

Vecere said Parrinello had operated the business for about 12 years. He described Parrinello as "a nice guy who just likes snakes. He's not a monster with 800 snakes."

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