Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Unbridled Bribery

By DAVID SEIFMAN City Hall Bureau Chief

WHOA! Cornelius Byrne (above), whose horse, Smoothie, crashed and died on Central Park South in September, is charged with offering an undercover investigator $100.

December 14, 2007 -- The owner of a carriage horse that died in a bizarre accident in Central Park has been arrested on charges of paying $100 to an undercover investigator to overlook violations at his stable, authorities said yesterday.

The Department of Investigation reported that Cornelius Byrne, 61, owner of Central Park Carriage Stables, at 547 W. 37th St., offered the payoff on Oct. 4, 2006, after an investigator posing as an inspector spotted seven violations of Consumer Affairs guidelines.
Officials said none of the alleged violations involved public safety.

Byrne was the owner of Smoothie, a 13-year-old mare that went berserk and crashed into a tree on Central Park South in September when a member of a break-dancing troupe beat a snare drum behind her.

She collapsed and died on the pavement, sparking outrage among animal-rights activists.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens), who has introduced a bill to abolish the carriage horses, said city supervision of the industry was desperately lacking.

"The city has been giving this industry political cover," he charged.
But one industry official said Byrne's arrest was an isolated incident that "had nothing to do with the animals."

"It was all about licenses and how they're displayed," the official said.
In one case, two different horses were given the same identification number, according to DOI.
The entire industry is comprised of just 68 carriages pulled by 220 horses.
Byrne's lawyer, Andrew Lankler, declined comment.

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