STAFFORD -Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced on Friday the indictment of Joseph J. Russo, 24, of Manahawkin.  Russo is charged for one count of Animal Cruelty in the 3rd degree for causing serious bodily injury and death to a Pomeranian dog named “Diesel”.

The indictment stems from an animal cruelty incident reported on May 30, 2016 to the Stafford Township Police Department. Diesel’s owner alleged that Diesel was left in a room she had rented at the home of Russo on May 25. When the owner returned a few hours later, Russo told her that Diesel had a seizure and died. Over the next few days not believing Russo’s story, Diesel’s owner contacted the Stafford Township Police Department. .

The charge alleges Russo "did purposely, knowingly, or reckless torment, torture, maim, unnecessarily or cruelly beat, cruelly abuse or needlessly mutilate a companion dog, by the name of Diesel," according to Ocean County Prosector spokesman Al Della Fave. 

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The Ocean County Prosecutors Office, Stafford Township PD, NJSPCA and Stafford Township Animal Control Police conducted  the investigation.  After receiving the necropsy report and interviewing witnesseses, New Jersey SCPA Detective Sergeant Larry Donato charged Russo with third degree animal cruelty.

Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Biringer presented the case to the grand jury with the assistance of Detective Sergeant Kimberly Trujillo-Tovar in the investigation.