An animal control officer in New York has been accused of running an illegal online reptile ring after 850 snakes were found in his home Thursday.
Authorities had been investigating Richard Parrinello, an animal control officer in Brookhaven, N.Y., for disability fraud when they stumbled upon 850 snakes, turtles, and turtle eggs inside his detached garage, New York's local PIX 11 reported.
Among the tangle of reptiles were at least two 6-foot-long Burmese pythons, which are illegal in the U.S. Parrinello's zoo was estimated to be worth roughly $500,000.
He later admitted to officers that he'd been running an illegal online reptile ring, selling pythons, boa constrictors, and Hognose snakes domestically and internationally through his business, "Snakeman's Exotics."
Parrinello, who lives in Shirley, N.Y., is now facing charges for owning the illegal pythons, which were taken to a sanctuary in Massachusetts, and also for "violating town codes by running a business at his home without a permit," according to PIX 11.
"I'm shocked, and dismayed that in a residential community like Shirley, this individual would put his neighbors at risk by selling reptiles and snakes as large as 6-feet in length out of his home," Councilwoman Constance Kepert said in a statement. "I want to thank our town investigators, as well as other law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation, who discovered and put an end to this illegal, and potentially dangerous operation."
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