Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today the creation of an Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit, which will work closely with the newly formed New York City Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad (which assumed the ASPCA’s law enforcement function in July 2014) in pursing allegations of animal cruelty, abuse and neglect in Queens County. “Acts of animal cruelty can range from neglect and abandonment to serious physical injury and even death and include such organized blood sports as dog and gamecock fighting which are inhumanly staged for the entertainment and gambling purposes of their spectators and in which the animals are encouraged to fight to the death,” said District AttorneyBrown. “Such atrocities, which studies have shown can be a precursor to crimes against people, constitute criminal activity against innocent and abused animal victims in our communities and warrant prosecution.”
“The Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad has an extraordinary working relationship with the Queens District Attorney’s Office in regards to Animal Cruelty Investigations,” said Sergeant Michael Murphy, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. “With the new Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit created by District AttorneyBrown we are looking forward to an even stronger collaboration to stop animal cruelty.”
The mandate of the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit – the first of its kind in a District Attorney’s Office in New York City – will be to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes and to educate the public about how to prevent and detect abuse of animals.
In creating the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit, District Attorney Brown also announced that he has appointed veteran Queens prosecutor Nicoletta J. Caferri as its inaugural chief. Ms. Caferri is a career prosecutor who has been with the Queens District Attorney’s Office since 1992. Most notably, she handled the appeal of People v. Curtis Basile, in which the New York State Court of Appeals recently affirmed the 2007 animal mistreatment conviction of Mr. Basile who showed a complete disregard for the life of a helpless animal by failing to furnish the basic necessities required to maintain the dog’s health. Since then she has been invited to speak at various prosecutorial forums acrossthe countryand has been asked to do law enforcement training nationally and to work on amicus curiae briefs for other prosecutors.
Other animal cruelty cases that Ms. Caferri has assisted in prosecuting include that of a Ridgewood resident who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals last month for failing to properly care for or feed his dog that was emaciated, severely malnourished and (MORE) – 2 – did not have the energy to walk when brought to an animal shelter. The defendant was sentenced to a conditional discharge, with the conditions including that he be banned from owning an animal for three years and that he be required to register with the New York City Department of Health as an animal abuser.
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