Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced the indictment of Joseph J. Russo, 24, of Manahawkin, for one count of Animal Cruelty in the 3rd degree for causing serious bodily injury and death to a Pomeranian dog named “Diesel.”
The Grand Jurors of the State of New Jersey, presented that Joseph J. Russo, on or about May 25, 2016, in the Township of Stafford, did purposely, knowingly, or recklessly torment, torture, maim, unnecessarily or cruelly beat, cruelly abuse or needlessly mutilate a companion dog, by the name of Diesel, a living animal, causing the said dog to suffer serious bodily injury and die as a result.
Officials said the indictment stems from an animal cruelty incident reported on May 30, 2016, at approximately 1 am, to the Stafford Township Police Department.
Diesel’s owner alleged that Diesel was left in a room she had rented at the home of Russo on May 25th. When she returned a few hours later, Russo told her that Diesel had a seizure and died. Over the next few days not believing Russo’s story, Diesel’s owner contacted Stafford PD.
The Ocean County Prosecutors Office, Stafford Township PD, NJSPCA and Stafford Township Animal Control Police conducted the subsequent investigation. In August 2017, having received the necropsy report and having completed witness interviews, NJSPCA Det. Sgt. Larry Donato charged Russo with third-degree animal cruelty.
Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Biringer then presented the case to the grand jury. Det. Sgt. Kimberly Trujillo-Tovar has also assisted in the investigation.