Slap on the wrist for carriage driver accused of animal cruelty
Saverio Colarusso, a New York City carriage driver who was charged nearly a year ago with animal cruelty in connection with a horse named Blondie, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to disorderly conduct. As part of a plea agreement with the district attorney's office and sanctioned by a judge, Colarusso was allowed to plead to the lesser charge, which carries a five day community service obligation and a small fine. If he had been convicted of the more serious charge, he could have faced a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail.
A judge allowed Colarusso on Wednesday to leave the the courtroom through a back door to avoid encounters with animal activists who have attended his every court appearance. A prosecutor, Shilpa Kalra, told the judge the plea deal was offered because Colarusso "does not have a criminal history, the horse had mismatched hind feet which can contribute to the horse's unusual gait beyond that which can be attributed to thrush, [and] the horse was in otherwise very good condition." Despite Kalra's comments in court, Colarusso has a checkered past that includes a charge of drinking while operating a carriage and fines for time-and-place violations, failure to turn on carriage lamps after dark, and failure to keep a daily log, as The New York Times reported after his arrest on the animal cruelty charge.