ALLEGANY, N.Y. — An Allegany man has pleaded not guilty to several misdemeanors and violations stemming from the seizure at his home of hundreds of reptiles — some of which were poisonous — in August 2018.
William Engelder, 71, of East Union Street, entered the plea Tuesday in Allegany Village Court with his attorney, Peter Kooshoian, at his side. The two separate felony charges may be presented to a grand jury.
Acting on a tip, the state Department of Environmental Conservation obtained a warrant and searched his residence Aug. 8, seizing nearly 300 reptiles, including king cobras, gila monsters and more than 200 turtles, some rare and endangered.
Besides the cobras and gila monsters, the DEC seized 17 bog turtles, a native endangered species of New York, and two box turtles, 28 Blanding’s turtles, 53 wood turtles, two painted turtles, six snapping turtles and 184 spotted turtles.
A year later, Engelder was charged by DEC conservation officers with first-degree reckless endangerment, a class D felony; illegal sale of wildlife, a class E felony; possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor; nine counts of overdriving, torturing, and injuring animals, an Agriculture and Markets Law class A misdemeanor; failure to provide proper sustenance, an Agriculture and Markets Law class A misdemeanor; 26 counts of illegally possessing and transporting venomous reptiles, a violation; possessing an endangered species without a permit, a violation; and 283 counts of illegally possessing a wild animal as a pet, a violation.
In addition, Engelder was charged in July with possessing a 2-foot American alligator and two turtles after a neighbor spotted the alligator heading toward his swimming pool. He pleaded not guilty to those charges previously in Village Court.
Josh Frank, the assistant district attorney handling case, said the case was adjourned by Justice Alan Spears until Oct. 1.