Two Elmont men have been indicted on felony animal cruelty charges for allegedly training pit bulls to fight each other in their backyard, then selling the dogs online.
Nassau County prosecutors said Marlon Bernier, 25, and 22-year-old Ricardo Louis ran the dogfighting operation out of their Virginia Avenue home since May 2010.
The men were each charged with prohibition of animal fighting, conspiracy and overdriving, torturing and injuring animals.
Investigators found nine dogs in the house. Some had fresh facial injuries and others had their teeth filed sharp. Two required emergency medical attention to address their wounds, and four had their ears cut off, which is often done for dogfighting.
The two suspects allegedly bred the strongest dogs so they could sell their puppies on website, BlueMagicPitz.webs.com. The average price of dogs on their site was $700.
“These two defendants turned animal cruelty into a lucrative business enterprise,” District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “The injuries inflicted on these animals and the suffering they endured is shocking.”
The Town of Hempstead Animal Control Department and the ASPCA Blood Sports Division assisted in the recovery of the dogs.
In the backyard, blood was found on the ground along with a “spring-pole,” which is a freestanding basketball hoop used to strengthen the dogs’ jaw muscles, prosecutors said. (See video below).
Bernier was held on $25,000 bail following his Friday arraignment. He was also charges of criminal contempt because he was prohibited from owning animals after he was convicted last year of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Louis was arraigned last month. Bail information on his case was not immediately available.
Bernier’s attorney, William Kephart, said his client “steadfastly denies” the charges. Peter Bongiorno, who represents Louis, said there was no evidence linking his client to the accusations.
They face up to four years in prison and are due back in court Wednesday.
-With Associated Press.
A video of the defendants using a “spring-pole” apparatus on one of the dogs: