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Thirteen honorees recognized for their commitment to improving the lives of the city’s most vulnerable animals at second annual appreciation luncheon
NEW YORK-The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) today honored 11 members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and two Assistant District Attorneys for their commitment and dedication to helping animals through the NYPD/ASPCA Partnership.
All 13 honorees attended a special luncheon held at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center, where they were presented with appreciation awards for the critical roles they played in the enforcement, investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty and neglect cases over the past year.
“The ASPCA is proud to recognize these 13 individuals for their extraordinary dedication to improving the lives of animals across the five boroughs,” said Howard Lawrence, Vice President of ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. “Their achievements further demonstrate the importance of tackling animal cruelty and neglect to help build a safer and more humane community.”
Individuals honored at today’s luncheon were:
Detective James Berk, 67th Precinct
Det. Berk is being recognized for his strong collaboration with the ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) team. Det. Berk identified two pet owners in need of assistance – one involving a dog in need of an insulated dog house, and another involving a pet owner who was struggling to provide veterinary care and training for his dog. Thanks to Det. Berk, both situations were resolved through a collaborative approach that allowed people and pets to stay together in a safe environment.
Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, Patrol Borough Staten Island
Inspector Bologna is being recognized as an integral member of the NYPD/ASPCA Partnership since its inception. As the borough animal liaison, Inspector Bologna has ensured that animal welfare is a priority for all police officers working on Staten Island.
Assistant District Attorney Nicoletta Caferri, Queens District Attorney’s Office
ADA Caferri is being recognized for her dedication and expertise in handling animal cruelty cases in Queens County. In January 2016, the Queens District Attorney’s Office announced that ADA Caferri – a veteran prosecutor who has been with the Queens DA’s Office since 1992 – would lead the new Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit. Her dedication and expertise in handling these cases has resulted in the convictions of numerous people for horrific animal-related crimes. Notably, she successfully prosecuted an individual for failing to properly care for and feed his dog, Brewster. When Brewster was found, he was so emaciated he could barely stand, but thanks to ADA Caferri’s hard work, Brewster’s owner pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty and Brewster now has a new home.
Detective Tara Cuccias, Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad (ACIS)
Det. Cuccias is being recognized for her dedication to animal welfare throughout New York City in her role as a detective in ACIS. She has played an instrumental part in numerous arrests made in animal cruelty cases resulting in the rescue of hundreds of animals. One example of her dedication to fighting animal cruelty involved a cat named Lucy, who sustained numerous injuries over a period of time with no eye witnesses or video of the incidents. With the assistance of the Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Erin Satterthwaite, ASPCA forensic veterinarians and detectives from ACIS, the perpetrator was identified and arrested.
Inspector Frederick Grover, 113th Precinct
Inspector Grover is being recognized for his dedication to animal welfare as a Precinct Commander. The 113th Precinct has been at the forefront of the NYPD/ASPCA Partnership since its inception. In addition to their anti-cruelty efforts, including their involvement in one of the first NYPD dog fighting cases, the 113th Precinct has collaborated on multiple dog house and dog food giveaways at the stationhouse with the ASPCA’s CIA team. These events are just one example of the many ways the officers from the 113th Precinct, under the command of Inspector Grover, have shown compassion for animals and their owners residing in South Jamaica, Queens.
Police Officer Jaime Ramirez, 73rd Precinct & Police Officer Guy Randel, 73rd Precinct
Officers Randel and Ramirez are being recognized as Neighborhood Coordinating Officers for their innovation in dealing with quality of life issues including animal welfare occurring in their precinct. These officers organized a MARCH Program (Multi Agency Response to Community Hotspots), conducted to address community complaints and quality of life issues in the confines of the precinct. Participating agencies included the NYPD, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Marshalls Office, NYC Sanitation Police, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Police and the ASPCA. In total, 21 locations were visited with varying enforcement action taken.
Police Officer Jessica Ruotolo, 1st Precinct
Officer Ruotolo is being recognized for her dedication and assistance with all animal-related matters in the downtown community as the Animal Liaison in the 1st Precinct. Officer Ruotolo demonstrated that dedication in a recent case resulting in the recovery of numerous cats from an individual who is currently under investigation for animal cruelty. The application and execution of the warrant occurred over several days with the assistance of the ASPCA’s legal advocacy, forensic and CIA teams, along with members of ACIS.
Police Officer Joshua Sailor, 113th Precinct
Officer Sailor is being recognized for rescuing a dog that was left without food or water and chained in an abandoned house. Officer Sailor, along with members of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit, were able to gain access to the house and rescue the dog. Officer Sailor has since adopted the dog, now named Mila.
Assistant District Attorney Erin Satterthwaite, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
ADA Satterthwaite is being recognized for taking the lead in seeking out and prosecuting numerous animal-related cases. Recently, ADA Satterthwaite successfully indicted and convicted Vince Cooper, a noted dog fighter, on dog fighting and animal cruelty charges. Each case ADA Satterthwaite handles receives the same care and attention, and she has led many successful animal-related prosecutions in Manhattan over the past few years.
Sergeant Maria Sexton, Patrol Borough Manhattan North
Sgt. Sexton is being recognized for her exceptional commitment and assistance to the NYPD/ASPCA Partnership. Sgt. Sexton oversees all Animal Liaisons assigned to Manhattan North Precincts and ensures that all animal complaints reported in PBMN are thoroughly investigated. PBMN Liaisons have made several animal cruelty arrests under Sgt. Sexton’s supervision, and she readily assists the ASPCA’s CIA team in all matters pertaining to animal welfare.
Detective Dennis Steele, Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad
Det. Steele is being recognized for his dedication to animal welfare throughout New York City in his role as an ACIS detective. He has played an active role in numerous arrests in animal cruelty cases and the rescue of hundreds of animals. One example of his commitment to fighting animal cruelty involved the arrest of an animal fighter, Jeremias Nieves. Det. Steele, with the assistance of Queens ADA Nicoletta Caferri, the ASPCA’s CIA, Legal Advocacy, and forensic veterinarian teams, and detectives from the ACIS, was able to arrest Nieves for animal fighting. More than 100 birds and several other animals were rescued as a result of the long-term investigation.
Police Officer Lorraine Vultaggio, 115th Precinct
Officer Vultaggio is being recognized for her initiation of a search warrant resulting in a large scale removal of animals at a hoarding location. Officer Vultaggio — the Precinct Crime Prevention Officer — was conducting a follow-up investigation of a domestic violence incident when she observed numerous animals inside the location. She immediately contacted members of the ASPCA and applied for a search warrant through the office of the Queens District Attorney, with the assistance of ADA Nicoletta Caferri. The search warrant and investigation resulted in the rescue of more than 55 cats, 12 dogs and two turtles. Officer Vultaggio was instrumental in securing the arrest and has continued to work with the district attorney’s office on the investigation.
Launched in January 2014, the NYPD and ASPCA citywide partnership continues to have a considerable positive impact for New York City’s vulnerable animals. Since its launch, there have been triple digit increases in arrests and animals treated.
PHOTOS: Photos from the luncheon and of each honoree receiving their award from Howard Lawrence, Vice President, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement, can be downloaded at this link. Each photo is labeled with recipient’s name. Officer Ruotolo is not pictured: https://aspca.widencollective.com/dam/externalorderpickup/a94aa86f-605c-4e33-9a3f-9ad7755f4687 (Photo credit to ASPCA/Anita Kelso Edson)
About the ASPCA
Founded in 1866, and celebrating its 150th birthday this year, the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.