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Ozone Park cat killer faces 2 years for animal cruelty

Ozone Park cat killer faces 2 years for animal cruelty
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Bianca Fortis

An Ozone Park man faces up to two years in prison after being convicted of bludgeoning a stray cat to death, the Queens district attorney said this week.

Following a six-day trial, Richard Ferrugio, 51, was convicted Monday of aggravated cruelty to animals and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

According to witnesses, in February 2012 Ferrugio beat the cat with a metal lug wrench and kicked the animal against a cement wall in front of 87-45 78th St. Several people asked Ferrugio to stop hurting the cat, but he refused, the DA said.

“The defendant showed a complete disregard for the life of a helpless animal by violently beating it to death on a public street,” DA Richard Brown said in a statement. “Even when passers-by asked him to stop, he refused. This is a troubling crime and deserving of significant punishment.”

But defense attorney Sean McNicholas painted a portrait of Ferrugio as an animal lover who only acted in self-defense. According to McNicholas, Ferrugio had been working on his car with the tire iron. The stray cat attacked him and he hit it with the tire iron in response. Realizing he had delivered a fatal blow, Ferrugio said he chose to kill the cat rather than let it die slowly.

Ferrugio, McNicholas said, believes he did the right thing.

“We certainly respect the jury’s verdict, but we believe it’s wrong,” McNicholas said.

Ferrugio’s sentencing is set for July 12 and he faces up to two years in prison. McNicholas said he is prepared to file an appeal should Ferrugio be sentenced to prison time.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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