Meet the team who make up the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) Department. For more on HLE's work, visit our New York City Services section.
Stacy Wolf is the Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for the Humane Law Enforcement department. Prior to joining the team, Wolf worked as the ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Services and then Senior Director of Anti-Cruelty Field Services. In those roles, she helped write and spearhead the passage of many of New York’s animal welfare laws, including its felony cruelty law, dog shelter law, exotic pet ban, pet dealer licensing law and dangerous dog law. Also working as part of the anti-cruelty initiatives team, Wolf assists in the investigation and prosecution of cruelty and dog fighting cases in New York State and around the country.
“My current position at HLE presented me with the unique opportunity to bring the skills I learned in practicing criminal law, drafting animal welfare legislation and teaching to the ASPCA’s own law enforcement team,” says Wolf. “Being able to help our Agents and Investigators successfully investigate and prosecute those who commit acts of animal cruelty seemed like the logical next step for me at the ASPCA.”
For nearly 20 years Wolf shared her home with 3 dogs. “The 2 older boys passed away a few years back and the last of the trio, Jack, a yellow Lab mix, died recently from lymphoma” explains Wolf. “Now that my job at HLE has me dividing my time between New York City and Rensselaer County, a dog of my own is not in the stars for the moment.” Wolf currently serves as foster mom to dogs looking for homes through AnimaLovers, a rescue group in the Albany area.
Kristi Adams is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Adams joined the organization in July 2004. Prior to joining the ASPCA, Agent Adams was employed for 5 years as a veterinary assistant in an animal hospital in Monroe, NY, and as an animal control officer for New York City’s Animal Care and Control and at an upstate New York humane society.
Agent Adams currently resides in Brooklyn with a Pit Bull named Bruno and 3 cats, Piper, Manch and Frank.
Patrick Breen is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Breen joined the organization in February 2007.
Prior to joining the organization, Agent Breen spent 20 years with the New York Police Department, 12 of which he served as a member of the mounted unit.
Agent Breen currently lives in Nassau County with his family, including Rebel, a Golden Retriever, and Chester, a black Lab.
“Being able to follow an investigation from its jump off point right through to its conclusion is amazing,” says Breen. “I love seeing positive results.”
Diane DiGiacomo is a Special Investigator for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent DiGiacomo has been employed with the organization since June 1997. Prior to working at the ASPCA, Special Investigator DiGiacomo was a member of the New York City Police Department.
Special Investigator DiGiacomo resides in New York City with her child.
Brad English is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent English joined the organization in August 2007.
Prior to joining the organization, Agent English spent 20 years with the New York City Police Department, retiring as a detective.
Agent English currently lives in New York with his family, including a Golden Retriever and 2 Shih Tzus.
“I became a Special Agent because my love of animals coupled with my law enforcement experience makes this the perfect job,” says English. “Seeing an abused animal placed in a loving home is very rewarding on many levels.”
Adam Gankiewicz is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Gankiewicz joined the organization in November 2001.
Prior to joining the ASPCA, Agent Gankiewicz was a detective for the New York City Police Department and a security advisor.
"Getting animals out of abusive situations, establishing solid cruelty cases and obtaining convictions to fit the crimes is what I hope to accomplish by being in this department," says Agent Gankiewicz.
Agent Gankiewicz, his wife, Stacy, and his daughter, Ashley, share their home with their Rottweiler, Justice, and Japanese Fighting Fish, Fishy.
Debra Koch is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Koch joined the organization in July 2007.
Prior to joining the ASPCA, Agent Koch was employed for 2 years as a New York City Peace Officer. She is a graduate of Queensborough College, with a degree in business.
Agent Koch currently lives in New York City with Roxy, a 7-year-old Maltipoo
mix whom she rescued.
Paul H. Lai
Paul H. Lai is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Lai has been with the organization since 1999.
Prior to joining the ASPCA, Agent Lai held a variety of positions in the criminal justice field, including a Parks Enforcement Officer with the NYC Parks Department and a Federal Police Officer with US Department of Veterans. He is a graduate of St. John’s University with a major in criminal justice.
“I never thought I would get respect from this job. But I do.” says Lai. “We get tremendous support from the NYC Police Department, the Assistant District Attorneys and even the FBI.”
Agent Lai currently resides in Queens with his 5-year-old black Lab mix, Brooklyn Buddy.
Mark MacDonald is a Special Investigator for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. After 30 distinguished years of service at the organization, Special Investigator MacDonald focuses primarily on the supervision of daily operations and investigations in the department. His career has included several highly successful undercover investigations of cock and dog fighting rings, pet shop inspections, and animal cruelty arrests and convictions.
Special Investigator MacDonald joined the ASPCA in 1974 as a kennel tech. He then worked as a round-up/emergency driver for the ASPCA Adoption Center and the ASPCA Animal Hospital, in addition to supervising operations at the ASPCA Animal Port located at John F. Kennedy International Airport. In 1986, he was promoted to Special Agent, and after serving with the force for 11 years, became Special Investigator in 1997. Presently he serves as a field training officer and First Grade Investigator.
"Saving helpless animals is my job—the look in their face when they are being saved is my reward," says Special Investigator MacDonald. He wishes more individuals would get involved to report cruelty. "Animal cruelty can happen anywhere. If you see animal cruelty, it is your business, do something about it," he says.
Special Investigator MacDonald resides in New York City with his wife, 3 children, 5 dogs, 4 birds, cat, tropical fish and various exotic animals.
Paul Romano is a Special Investigator for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Investigator Romano joined the organization in September 1998.
Prior to working at the ASPCA, Investigator Romano was a Lieutenant Peace Officer for a private housing complex in New York City for 12 years. It was in this capacity that Investigator Romano became interested in humane law enforcement after numerous interactions with ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents.
It is Investigator Romano's hope that crimes involving animals will eventually be viewed as serious as crimes involving people. "Hopefully, people will put pressure on their legislators to strengthen laws to protect animals," says Investigator Romano.
Investigator Romano resides in New York with his wife, children and dog.
“I enjoy making a difference,” says Romano. “I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Deborah Ryan is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Ryan joined the organization in 2007.
Prior to joining the ASPCA, Agent Ryan served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, where her position titles included Chief of Investigations and Chief of Police. Upon retiring, Ryan pursued a position with Humane Law Enforcement. Ryan currently resides in New York City.
“I always wanted to combine my love for animals with that of law enforcement,” says Ryan. “The ASPCA allows me to do just that.”
Richard Ryan is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA.
Agent Ryan joined the ASPCA in 2003 after a 21-year career with the New York City Police Department, 9 of which he served as a member of the mounted unit. This experience qualified Agent Ryan to bear the distinction of Equine Specialist. His duties include monitoring the care and working conditions of New York City’s carriage and riding horses.
Agent Ryan currently lives in New York City, where on his spare time he operates a boat and provides ecological tours of the marine environment.
Joann Sandano is a Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Agent Sandano joined the organization in August 1999.
Prior to joining the ASPCA, Agent Sandano volunteered at her local SPCA as an animal cruelty investigator. In addition, she was employed as a security officer for various retail stores and college campuses. Combining her love of animals and previous law enforcement experience, Agent Sandano says her job as an HLE Agent is a dream come true.
“I feel it is my duty to stand up to the bullies, and anyone who hurts or neglects an animal is a bully,” says Sandano. “There is no greater feeling than taking an animal out of a horrible situation and then bringing them to safety.”
Agent Sandano lives in New York with 3 dogs and a cat.
Timothy Stack is a Special Investigator for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Investigator Stack joined the organization in March 1994.
Prior to joining the organization Investigator Stack was employed by the New York City Emergency Medical Service.
Currently, Investigator Stack resides in Long Island.
HLE Dispatch and Supportive Services
Maribel Pena is a Dispatcher for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA. Pena joined the organization in 2005.
Prior to joining the ASPCA, Pena graduated from John Jay College with a degree in Criminal Justice and served as an NYPD Cadet. Pena currently resides in the Bronx with a Pug named Gizmo.
“Coming to work is something I find very rewarding,” says Pena. “I am responsible for sending the officers to the homes where they will save an animal’s life.”