By Bianca Fortis
An Ozone Park man has been sentenced to one year in jail for the killing of a stray cat in February 2012, the Queens district attorney said.
Richard Ferrugio, 51, beat a cat with a metal lug wrench and kicked the animal against a cement wall in front of 87-45 78th St., according to witnesses at Ferrugio’s trial. Several people asked him to stop hurting the cat, but he would not, they said.
But defense attorney Sean McNicholas said Ferrugio is an animal lover who was acting in self-defense. By Ferrugio’s account, he had been working on his car with a tire iron when the stray feline attacked him. He then used the tire iron to fend off the animal. After realizing he had delivered a blow to the cat, he chose to kill it rather than let it die slowly as it inevitably would have, he said.
Ferrugio was convicted last month after a six-day trial.
DA Richard Brown announced last Friday Ferrugio was sentenced to serve one year for aggravated cruelty to animals and six months for fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, which he will serve concurrently.
He had faced up to two years in prison.
“The defendant has been found guilty of beating to death a helpless stray cat as horrified onlookers pleaded with him to stop,” Brown said. “Such acts of aggression toward animals cannot — and will not — be tolerated. Today’s sentence is more than justified.”
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.