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Reptile breeder pays fine after 157 venomous snakes seized

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A reptile breeder in upstate New York has paid a $500 fine related to the possession of more than 150 venomous snakes in his home, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Wednesday.

The DEC said in a report that investigators got a warrant to search the Orange County home of Darren Paolini after the man was hospitalized for a venomous snake bite last June. He had been bitten by a Taiwanese pit viper at his home, where he had a sophisticated breeding operation in the basement.

Officers seized 157 live venomous snakes and several years of breeding records from Paolini’s Newburgh home. The snakes, which included 29 species, were turned over to the Bronx Zoo. DEC said Paolini told an investigator he gets snakes from importers, breeds them and trades the babies for new snakes.

Paolini pleaded guilty to misdemeanor commercialization of wildlife charges in February and agreed to pay a fine, DEC said.

In June, Paolini told News12 Westchester that he had studied Asian pit vipers for 30 years and was an expert on breeding them. “It’s just been a love in my life. A passion since a young child,” he said.

He said he had believed reptile permits he obtained in 2005 were still valid.

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