A pair of North Carolina men have been indicted after authorities earlier this month found a toddler inside a parked vehicle in Wyandanch with two loaded firearms and 19 pit bull puppies, covered in feces and urine and without access to food and water.
Jamar Belle, 28, was indicted Monday in Riverhead on two counts each of criminal possession of a firearm and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon; 19 counts of neglect of an impounded animal; 10 counts of carrying an animal in a cruel manner and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. Supreme Court Judge Timothy Mazzei ordered Belle held on $15,000 cash or $40,000 bond.
On Sept. 14, Russell Brown, 67, was indicted in Riverhead on identical charges along with one count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Brown was held on $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond, records show.
“The alleged actions of these defendants represent a despicable level of disregard for the well-being of not one, but two of our most vulnerable populations: animals and children,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said. “While the victims in this case cannot advocate for themselves, we will.”
John LoTurco, Bell’s Huntington-based defense attorney, said his client had no criminal culpability in the incident.
“The toddler was not our client’s child nor under his supervision,” LoTurco said. “Moreover, our client immediately cooperated with the investigators and agreed to turn the puppies over for adoption rather than challenging the state. In the end, we are hopeful that a resolution can be reached that will reflect our client’s cooperation and lack of criminal conduct.”
Brown is represented by the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, which did not respond to a request for comment.
On Sept. 1 at approximately 7:10 p.m., Suffolk police officers observed Brown and Belle inside a 2022 Jeep Compass parked in a lot on Merritt Avenue in Wyandanch, prosecutors said.
Inside the Jeep, authorities discovered 19 pit bull puppies confined in two containers — 10 in a rusted crate in the trunk and nine in a plastic bin on the back seat. The puppies, which were less than six weeks old, were covered in urine and feces and their mother was not present to nurse them, officials said.
Police also found a 2-year-old child in the backseat of the vehicle next to two loaded firearms, prosecutors said.
Child Protective Services was contacted to place the toddler in protective care while the puppies were taken to a veterinarian for treatment and evaluation. All 19 puppies are available for adoption.
Brown is due back in court on Oct. 12 and Bell on Oct. 19.