LOWER EAST SIDE — Police have arrested the accomplice of a man who in October disposed of his emaciated pit bull by stuffing the dog into a suitcase and tossing it in a dumpster.
Bryan Lepe, 22, was arrested Nov. 25 around 9:15 p.m. and has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals for his role in helping dog owner Alec Litzinger, 21, smuggle his starving pit bull Diego out of his apartment in a suitcase and leave the suitcase in a dumpster, court records show.
Surveillance footage shows Lepe helping Litzinger cart a suitcase out of an apartment building at Water Street near Gouverneur Slip East on Oct. 19 at around 8:45 p.m., according to a criminal complaint.
Hours later, a sanitation worker saw a dog's head sticking out of the same suitcase in a dumpster at 7 Gouverneur Slip East, prosecutors said.
Litzinger was arrested Oct. 27 and was charged with both aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing and injuring animals. He is due back in court Jan. 12, 2017.
Litzinger told prosecutors he kept the starving dog in his closet and had tossed him in the dumpster because Diego was in such poor health he knew he would be charged if he took the dog to a vet, according to a criminal complaint.
Diego, who was identified by microchip as belonging to Litzinger, was so malnourished when brought to an ASPCA hospital for treatment that he had to undergo a special feeding protocol to prevent re-feeding illness, a forensic vet told prosecutors.
The dog's whiskers were also singed at the ends due to exposure to extreme heat, he had sustained some injuries to his paws as well as scabs on his ears most likely from fly bites, and his coat was stained by prolonged contact to urine and feces, the vet told prosecutors.
Diego is currently being fostered following weeks of medical care, according to an ASPCA spokeswoman.
Lepe was remanded and is currently being held at the Anna M. Cross Correctional Facility on Rikers Island, Department of Correction records show. He is due back in court Dec. 1, according to court records.
He is also being charged with two counts of petit larceny and possession of narcotics for three prior offenses dating back to Sept. 15, for which he is due back in court Dec. 2 and Dec. 5.
Lepe's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.