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James Bizzaro of Bohemia arrested after marijuana-growing operation, dead animals found at home, police say

These turtles were among the animals -- dead

These turtles were among the animals -- dead and alive -- that Suffolk police said they found at a Bohemia home during a drug probe on Dec. 2, 2014. Credit: SCPD

A Bohemia man faces criminal and wildlife charges after a drug investigation uncovered not just cocaine and a marijuana-growing operation but a cache of dead and live animals, Suffolk police said Thursday.

Armed with a search warrant, narcotics detectives raided James Bizzaro's home at 1301 Sycamore Ave. on Dec. 2 and found about $40,000 worth of cocaine and marijuana, 60 marijuana plants, a loaded .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle and paraphernalia to grow marijuana, including lamps, police said.

An unexpected cache was found in and near Bizzaro's detached garage, police said. There were 300 deer hides, a freezer full of frozen waterfowl carcasses, remains of whitetail deer carcasses and deer parts, and live snapping turtles in two large vats filled with muddy water, police said. The property is across from a county park.

The "putrid" smell outside overwhelmed investigators, and it was unclear where the animals came from and why Bizzaro had them, said Lt. Matt Blaising, with the police force of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It appeared some deer hides were being tanned with salt, but the majority of hides and carcasses were out in the open in various states of rot, he said.

"This level of hoarding of animal parts is like nothing I've seen so far," Blaising said.

Bizzaro was on a boat during the raid and was arrested that day in Oceanside, police said.

Police said they also found Bizzaro was illegally tapping into PSEG Long Island power.

Bizzaro, 48, was charged with third-degree grand larceny in the electricity theft and criminal possession of burglar's tools for possessing a device to steal power from the utility company, police said.

He was also charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Police said they seized about 10 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $35,000 and about 55 grams of crack with an estimated street value of $4,000.

DEC officials cited Bizzaro for possessing 13 bags of untagged venison and unlawful possession of 13 live snapping turtles, which were taken to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents cited him for unlawful possession of about 93 untagged frozen duck carcasses and two dead songbirds, violations of state and federal laws.

Bizzaro was arraigned Dec. 3 and bail was set at $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond. His attorney, Gerard Donnelly of Hauppauge, declined to comment on the seizures, except to say "My client has pleaded not guilty and he asserts his innocence."

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