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Cricket-Throwing Woman's 2 Accomplices Haven't Been Charged, DA Says

By Ben Fractenberg | August 31, 2016 9:28pm
 Self-described performance artist Zaida Pugh unleashed hundreds of bugs on a crowded D train on the Manhattan Bridge on Aug. 24, 2016.
Self-described performance artist Zaida Pugh unleashed hundreds of bugs on a crowded D train on the Manhattan Bridge on Aug. 24, 2016.
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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Two partners in crime who helped a self-described performance artist terrorize panicked passengers on a D train by unleashing hundreds of live crickets while screaming, vomiting and urinating on the floor have yet to be arrested or charged, prosecutors said. 

Zaida Pugh, 21, confessed to investigators that the duo helped her hatch her plan to pose as a homeless woman carrying 300 live crickets and 300 live earthworms onto a packed D train Aug. 25 and then one of her partners would taunt her and hit the bugs out of her hand, causing a scene that would spark a viral video, according to her criminal complaint. Her second accomplice filmed the entire thing, prosecutors added.

The stunt went far beyond what they expected, however, when one of the riders pulled the emergency brake over the Manhattan Bridge, leaving them all stranded inside for a half hour. Pugh upped the ante, continuing her manic performance which included screaming, hitting herself and urinating on the train floor as the air conditioning shut down, prosecutors said. 

Prosecutors neither of Pugh's accomplices has been charged at this point. They added that the chaos gave riders, including 34-year-old Rory Frizell, who was reportedly commuting home to Bensonhurst at the time, flashbacks to prior traumatic disasters in NYC.

Pugh, who later apologized for the incident, saying it was intended to call attention to the plight of the homeless, was silent at her arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court Wednesday night as about a dozen family members and her baby sat in the audience.

"I just really had a dream and I wanted it to go far," Pugh said in a Facebook video before crying. "I wanted to spread messages out there. But I didn't want it to happen like this."

Pugh was arrested after the train pulled into the DeKalb station and she was taken for a psychiatric evaluation. 

She was arraigned Wednesday on charges of reckless endangerment., obstructing governmental administration, criminal nuisance, disorderly conduct and littering in the subway and was ordered held on $5,000 bail.

Her lawyer, Matthew Caldwell, called the amount "outrageous" given that Pugh had never been arrested before and was charged with a non-violent misdemeanor. 

"She is now and has always been remorseful for her behavior," Caldwell told the judge. 

Pugh is due back in court on Sept. 2.