Authorities in New York found nearly 850 snakes, including two 1.8-meter Burmese pythons, and other exotic animals at the Shirley, N.Y., home of an animal control officer, who was being probed for committing fraud, reports said.
Officials raided the home of Richard Parrinello, 44, a full-time Brookhaven Town employee, to investigate if he was committing workers’ compensation fraud when they discovered the reptiles hidden in the detached garage of Parrinello’s home.
They found a collection of snakes, turtles and tarantulas, and according to reports, these reptiles are said to be worth $500,000. Parrinello was illegally selling these reptiles while on disability leave, reports said.
In New York, it is illegal to hold a Burmese python without permit, and the two pythons found at Parrinello’s home will be shipped to an out-of-state animal sanctuary, Newsday reported. Burmese pythons can grow up to 18 feet.
"There is a reason why Burmese pythons are illegal," Roy Gross, chief of Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told Associated Press, citing the deaths of two young boys in New Brunswick, Canada, who were killed by an African rock python while they slept.
"I personally have never seen this many reptiles in one area," he told Newsday.
It is not immediately clear what would happen to the other animals, as officials told Newsday that it was legal to own most of the animals, but illegal to sell them without a permit.
Parrinello is said to be cooperating with authorities and has not been arrested, and according to reports, he faces possible termination from the job. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued Parrinello a ticket for owning the Burmese pythons and for keeping alligator parts -- used for feeding the reptiles -- without a permit.
He is due in court on Oct. 23, Newsday reported.