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Snake salesman given until Monday to cooperate

Michael Ralbovsky, a herpetologist curator, with one of

Michael Ralbovsky, a herpetologist curator, with one of the illegal 6-foot Burmese python snakes removed during a raid by town and county officers. According to officials at the scene, 850 snakes were on the property owned by Richard Parrinello, a town of Brookhaven animal control officer who has been out on disability leave. (Sept. 19, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

A Brookhaven employee found with more than 850 snakes and exotic animals at his Shirley home has been given until Monday to decide whether he'll cooperate with authorities -- or face losing his reptiles.

Deputy town attorney David Moran said he will seek a State Supreme Court order to remove the snakes if Richard Parrinello does not meet with town officials.

Authorities on Thursday removed two 6-foot Burmese pythons, which are illegal in New York without a permit, from the two-car garage at the home of the 44-year-old animal control officer.

Most snakes in Parrinello's garage are legal to own, but town officials said he violated town codes by operating his reptile-sales business, SnakeMan's Exotics, at his home without a permit.

Moran said the snakes pose a possible safety threat if they escape.

"I would run out to Supreme Court . . . to remove the snakes," Moran said in an interview Friday. "We want to make sure that the animals are protected [and] . . . the public is protected."

The snakes and other creatures, including three tarantulas, were discovered Thursday during a raid that stemmed from an investigation into whether Parrinello had a second job while on disability leave from the town. He faces possible termination from his town job if found to have committed disability fraud.

Town attorney Annette Eaderesto said a state workers' compensation hearing in the disability case is expected in about six weeks. She said Parrinello had been "stealing" from taxpayers by drawing disability pay since May while working a second job.

State authorities have charged Parrinello with having the Burmese pythons and three frozen alligator hatchlings without permits.

Parrinello has declined to comment. Friday, he ordered a news photographer to leave his property.

Brookhaven officials said Friday that they do not believe Parrinello acquired the animals from his town job.

Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said exotic animals can be bought at pet stores, at reptile expos and through websites, though federal law bars taking some types of reptiles over state lines. "It's easy to acquire them," he said.

Gross said Parrinello's animals appeared to be healthy. "This was very well-organized, very well-maintained," he said Friday. "I've got to give him credit for that."

He said no laws restrict the number of snakes a person can own, but added, "They don't belong in a residential neighborhood."


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