Manahawkin Man Sentenced in Dog’s Death

Nov 07, 2018

Joseph Russo, 25, of  Manahawkin was sentenced on Nov. 2  to 90 days in Ocean County Jail and five years of probation in conjunction with his guilty plea to killing a 3-year-old Pomeranian named Diesel in 2016. Diesel had been training to be a certified service/therapy dog for his owner, Abigail Russel, a Navy veteran.  

According to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, on June 4, Russo pled guilty to an indictment which said he “did purposely, knowingly or recklessly torment, torture, maim, unnecessarily or cruelly beat, cruelly abuse or needlessly mutilate a companion dog, by the name of Diesel, a living animal, causing said dog to suffer serious bodily injury and die as a result of said actions.”

As additional conditions of the sentence, Russo will be required to complete 30 hours of community service, complete anger management and be prohibited from owning or working with animals during the period of his probation. 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Carr under “Patrick’s Law” that, in 2013, increased penalties for abused, neglected and/or tortured animals. “Patrick’s Law” was named after an emaciated pit bull, Patrick, found after being thrown down a trash chute. 

Al Della Fave, spokesman for then-prosecutor Joseph Coronato, earlier said that in May 2016, Russo told the dog’s owner that Diesel had died after suffering from a seizure. The dog had been kept in a room rented out in Russo’s home, Della Fave said. Diesel’s owner doubted that story and reported the dog’s death to Stafford Township police, who then arrested Russo.  —E.E.





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