An ex-Belmont Park backstretch employee will spend several weekends in jail after authorities said he retaliated for his firing by letting a racehorse out of its stall last summer before the animal suffered a fatal fall.
"What you did was stupid and reckless and an animal died as a result of your conduct," Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Schwartz told Ramzan Antooa on Tuesday.
Then he sentenced Antooa, 39, of Elmont, to 10 weekends in jail, five years of probation and about $50,000 in restitution — to be collected by civil judgment.
Court records show the defendant pleaded guilty in July to a felony charge of interference with or injury to certain domestic animals and a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge.
Before his plea deal, Antooa also had been facing felony grand larceny and burglary charges along with other misdemeanor offenses. A top count conviction could have sent him to prison for five to 15 years.
Prosecutors said previously that Antooa let an unraced horse named Pasta out of its stable stall on July 30, 2020. They said that caused Pasta to get spooked, run around the barn and then outside on a blacktop area where the animal slipped and fell.
The 2-year-old female horse, which was valued at more than $200,000, broke a leg, bled profusely and died a short time later, according to the Nassau district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors also had alleged after Antooa’s indictment that he had worked for Pasta’s trainer before he was fired in November 2019 for misconduct. They said the defendant then sent several threatening messages to the trainer before he carried out the revenge plot while working months later for another Belmont trainer.
Antooa said Tuesday he felt "guilty" when the judge asked how he felt about what had happened to the horse.
The judge signed a protective order that prohibits Antooa from contact with Pasta’s former trainer. He also told the defendant to report to Nassau's jail at 6 p.m. Friday to serve his first weekend in custody.
The New York State Gaming Commission suspended Antooa’s license to work at state racetracks last summer before later revoking his license for life, Newsday previously reported.
A district attorney’s office spokesman declined to comment after Tuesday’s sentencing, as did a supervisor with the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, which represented Antooa.