A Freeport man pleaded guilty Monday to animal fighting-related charges that authorities said followed their discovery in February of 13 pit bulls that died in a garage fire.
Authorities said Anthony Reddick, 53, pleaded guilty to two felony counts connected to breeding and training dogs for fighting. He also pleaded guilty to 19 misdemeanors related to keeping animals for fighting, and having training equipment for animal fighting.
Firefighters and police found the dead dogs and dogfighting paraphernalia at a Hillside Avenue fire that authorities said didn't seem suspicious. Reddick lived in a basement apartment on the same property.
"I wasn't fighting them," he said of the dogs Monday in court as authorities led him away in handcuffs. He declined to comment further.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Libroia told Nassau County Judge David Sullivan that Reddick had two prior animal fighting convictions.
Sullivan said he planned to sentence Reddick to 1 to 3 years in prison, ban him from owning pets for 15 years, and order him to be listed in a new county registry for animal abusers.
The judge also said Reddick would have to forfeit three dogs authorities found alive at the property. Sullivan set sentencing for Sept. 22.
A new county law says names, addresses and photos of Nassau residents who are convicted animal abusers will be listed for five years in an online registry that the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will maintain. The law bans retailers and shelters from providing pets to registrants.
Nassau SPCA Det. Bob Sowers said Reddick could turn out to be the first person in the registry. He'll have to register within five days of his custody release, a county official said.
Reddick's attorney declined to comment after court.
In a statement, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said legislation should be passed to increase animal abuse penalties by moving offenses from an agricultural law section to the penal law section of New York's criminal code.
"This case is another example of why we need action in Albany to give law enforcement the necessary tools to combat dogfighting and other forms of animal abuse," she said.