At the Manhattan Criminal Court, three men accused of abusing pit bulls, training them to fight and pushing them into illegal dog fights were free without bail on Friday. The men were ordered to stay away from all dogs and to show up at all planned court hearings.
According to the New York Post, Evans Fuentes, 39, Edward Johnson, 37, and Benito Gittens pleaded not guilty to felony conspiracy and other charges related to dog fighting and were then released. Johnson is a convicted felon with a history of not appearing at court hearings. The three men are also charged with dog fighting and failure to provide food and drink to the now seized dogs.
Another man, Jose Rivera, 55, who had been arrested in October faces additional charges for the sale of drugs, possession of weapons, possessing heroin and fentanyl is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond.
The four men allegedly trained and abused the dogs in their Washington Heights, Harlem, Middletown and Uniondale homes. Investigators found dog training equipment and a dead puppy found in the freezer. A video showed a dog fighting. The dog fights were alleged to have been arranged by Johnson who collected money at the door. Gittens, a veterinary technician, “performed medical treatment on dogs … so they could continue to fight.”
Gittens had 12 pitbulls and training equipment. All together 29 dogs have been seized and they are all being held and cared for in various locations as per the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Tthe latest state law that takes effect on January 1 prevented prosecutors from asking for bail or electronic ankle monitors for the suspects.
One of the latest law, “The Bail Elimination Act of 2019”prevented prosecutors from demanding bail or electronic monitoring of the suspects. Johnson is a convicted felon with a history of not showing up for scheduled court hearings.
These men walk free for now. A future trial will determine their guilt or innocence.
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