QUEENS — A Ozone Park man was convicted Monday of viciously beating a stray cat to death that he said scratched him and faces up to two years in prison for the crime, District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced.
Richard Ferrugio, 51, was arrested in March 2012, one month after witnesses saw him beating the stray cat with a tire iron in Woodhaven, Brown said in a statement.
"The defendant showed a complete disregard for the life of a helpless animal by violently beating it to death on a public street," said Brown. "Even when passersby asked him to stop, he refused. This is a troubling crime and deserving of significant punishment."
Ferrugio was held without bail on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals and criminal possession of a weapon, DA Brown said.
After he was arrested, Ferrugio indicated he attacked the cat after the animal allegedly scratched him, but that he only hit the cat once with the lug wrench, and that when he saw the pain the cat was in, he continued to hit it to put it out of its misery and pain, the release said.
However, at trial witnesses testified to seeing him take the metal wrench out of his trunk on Feb. 7, 2012, and beat the cat on 78th Street near 88th Avenue, and then kick the pet against a cement wall, the DA's office stated. When one eyewitness told him to stop, Ferrugio threatened to do the same thing to her, she testified.
As several other bystanders told him not to kill the cat, he "stated in sum and substance that he didn't care about the cat, that he was sick of the cat, and they would be next," said the DA's office. Soon after, he fled the scene.
Police later recovered the tire iron from the truck of his Altima. Ferrugio is set to face sentencing July 12, 2013.