Beth Hoskins was sentenced in Aurora Town Court Thursday afternoon to three years probation, after being convicted on dozens of counts of animal cruelty for mistreating dozens of horses she owned
Erie County prosecutors had been seeking a two year jail sentence for Hoskins, but Aurora Town Justice Douglas Marky spared her from spending time in prison.
Hoskins was found guilty of misdemeanor cruelty in July for mistreating 52 horses but was acquitted on 22 other counts.
Hoskins' farm was raided in 2010. Some of the horses were returned to her, but the SPCA has been caring for many of them. Four of the horses have since died.
The case has been dragging on since March of 2010 when the SPCA swarmed onto her Aurora farm and seized dozens of horses said to be living in squalor and 53-cats said to be living in hideous conditions.
Hoskins case surrounded four-different law suits, that included a federal court case where she says it was a conspiracy against her by prosecutors, the SPCA and media.
After the sentence Hoskins attacked Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita for pushing the case.
"I thought it was sort of consistent with Frank Sedita's approach to this case. I thought that he has been out of portion. I think he has been strangely personal in his attacks on me, and I think that people in this country are allowed to launch a defense if they feel they have been falsely accused as I felt I had and if I'm going to seek justice, why does that make me a demon," said Hoskins.
As part of the sentence, Hoskins has to allow inspections of her current horses including by veterinarians.
Defense lawyer Thomas Eoannou said his client was aware there were problems in the spring of 2010 when she admits things got out of control.
"She knows exactly what she is talking about. There were problems. There may or may not have been animal cruelty. The judge drew the line in the sand at one place, other courts have drawn it in another. This debate is going to go on for years until the Court of Appeals finally defines it," said Eoannou.
SPCA Executive Director Barbara Carr attacked the judge for not barring Hoskins from having animals. Carr said the agency had 39-cases this year with a judge barring a defendant from having animals in 38 of them. Carr said one case involved horses.
"It's not fair to our donors, but more than that - it's not fair to the other animals in our care who needs us every single day," said Carr. "While we spend money taking care of the defendants horses -- the most prolific animal abuser in Erie County history, is what I believe was said in court today."
The SPCA has spent about $1.3 million to care for the horses.
Carr said the money and staff handling the Hoskins case are diverting attention from other animal cases. That may keep adding up because Hoskins is expected to appeal.
Before receiving her sentence, Hoskins read a statement and break into tears.
“Please do not send me to jail. Please do not forfeit any horses. Allow us to rebuild our lives and try to move forward,” Hoskins told the courtroom.
Hoskins maintains her innocence.