Seven men collared in a dog fight ring in June are headed to court, with animal lovers vowing to fight to make sure that swift justice follows all who dare to break the law by hosting or participating in dog fights.
On June 16 cops were alerted by police in New Jersey that a dog fight was taking place at 108 E. 179th Street. After arriving at the scene, cops from the 46th Precinct arrested seven people, including ringleader Alexander Estephane, who were charged felony charges of animal fighting and participating in an animal fight, and misdemeanor charges of promoting gambling and owning an animal for fighting.
A Manhattan-based group called Spay Neuter Intervention Project has vowed to contact elected officials and appear at every court hearing to ensure that the men arrested are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“We are going to be at each court hearing, out in full force,” said Regina Massaro, of SNIP. “Dog fighting is not a culture, it is a crime. We have reached out to all Bronx papers and the city council delegation from the borough. We are asking for their support.”
Massaro said that SNIP had brought a pit bull to the first hearing in the case of Estephane and the six other men arrested. The six other defendants in the case are Lauritz Acoy and Eric Boyce, both of the Bronx; Israel Cuevas of North Brunswick, N.J.; Juan Teledo of Paterson, N.J.; Alterik Mason of Newark, N.J.; and Darnell Walker, also of Newark, N.J.
“Estephane doesn’t understand what he did wrong. It is pathetic,” Massaro continued. “Or, maybe he does realize he did something wrong, and he just doesn’t care.”
At his last appearance in court, Estephane dismissed his legal aid attorney as he stood before the court, stating he retained counsel. Estephane and other defendants will appear again on September 8th at 9 a.m. at Bronx Supreme Court, located at 265 East 161st Street, and SNIP is asking that animal advocates come to the hearing to support the cause.
“Estephane portrayed himself as a family man,” stated Massaro. “Estephane would like the dogs returned so he may send them to the Virgin Island. After leaving the courtroom, Estephane laughed and ‘high-fived’ three individuals who accompanied him to court. It is clear Estephane believes dog fighting is acceptable.”
Massaro explained that a large turnout by animal rights advocates is necessary for the September 8.
To reach SNIP, please visit them on the web at www.snipnyc.org.
The Bronx District Attorney’s office did not comment on this matter as of press time.