If 850 snakes were found in your home, you would either be accused of being a Sri Lankan pungi-playing snake charmer, or just insane. Or you’d be this guy: Richard Parinello, 44, an animal control officer from Shirley, NY, who decided to hoard 850 snakes in his Suffolk County home, reports Fox News on Sept. 20.
The reason for the reptile pile? Parinello was selling the snakes, as a side business, while he was collecting disability from his town job. Parinello has been working off and on for the Town of Shirley as a control officer since 1988.
Among the stash of snakes were two 6-foot Burmese pythons, monster snakes that can grow to a length of 30 feet. Because of their aggressive nature, it is illegal to own a Burmese python in New York state.
“There is a reason why Burmese pythons are illegal,” said Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross. “They are an accident waiting to happen.”
Parinello set up a business website, www.snakemanexotics.com, which has since been taken down, and was selling the snakes out of his home without a permit.
Authorities were originally investigating a potential workman's comp fraud, and five agencies – the town of Brookhaven, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Suffolk County Police and the SPCA – all executed a warrant to search Parinello’s home and garage.
Parinello lives in the home with his wife and his 10-year-old son. Investigators found $500,000 in snakes, along with turtles, turtle eggs, tarantulas and freezers full of snake food – frozen mice and alligator carcasses.
"What makes this case especially egregious is that this individual was allegedly operating this reptile business out of his home, posing an unknown threat to the neighbors of this community," said Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine
The snakes are in the hands now of the SPCA. The pythons will be donated to an animal shelter in Massachusetts.