MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that two people and two businesses were arraigned on a 52-count grand jury indictment for the alleged illegal possession, transportation, commercialization of dangerous wildlife, including Common Snapping Turtles, Gila Monsters and Mexican Beaded Lizards.
Anthony Cammarata, 27, of Levittown was arraigned today before Judge William O’Brien and charged with:
Bail was continued at $15,000 cash, and the defendant is due back in court January 16. If convicted of the top count he faces a maximum of three-and-half to 15 years in prison.
Douglas Dellecave, 50, of Seaford was arraigned November 30 before Judge Meryl Berkowitz and charged with:
The defendant was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court January 4. If convicted of the top count he faces a maximum of 1-1/3 to four years in prison.
“We have laws restricting the possession and transport of endangered and dangerous animals to protect public safety, the environment, and the animals themselves,” said DA Singas. “This investigation not only uncovered a huge number of illegal animals, but unlawful weapons as well. I am grateful to our many law enforcement partners for their assistance in this case.”
Nassau County SPCA President Gary Rogers said, “This indictment is just another example on how the Nassau County model for fighting animal crimes works. Animal crimes are taken very seriously in Nassau County as they should be.”
“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulates the possession of endangered and dangerous animals to preserve threatened wildlife and to protect the safety of the public,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Failure to follow safety protocols and have proper licensing, as was the case with this defendant, is not only illegal but could lead to deadly consequences. I applaud the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, our Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and all the law enforcement agencies that helped to bring this case to fruition.”
Nassau County Assistant Fire Chief Michael Uttaro said, “Fire Marshals responded to the location to assist NCSPCA, and while at the location it was determined that the business owner/defendant failed to comply with a previous order to install the required fire alarm system. All new and existing pet stores in Nassau County are required by the Nassau County Fire Prevention Ordinance to have Carbon Monoxide detectors.”
Commissioner of Police Patrick Ryder said, “The indictments of defendants Cammarata and Dellecave is another example of numerous law enforcement agencies working cohesively to bring these defendants to justice. This multi-jurisdictional investigation led to the seizure of 83 animals, weapons and drugs. Some of the reptiles were extremely dangerous to our residents and they have been placed into safer surroundings conducive to their own habitat. I would like to congratulate all investigators involved for their hard work on this case.”
DA Singas said on September 10, following a months-long investigation and pursuant to a warrant, law enforcement agents from the Nassau County SPCA, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Nassau County Fire Marshalls, and the NCDA Investigations Bureau searched the premises of Reptile Rage, a pet store in Levittown, and discovered several dangerous reptiles, including a six-foot-long Asian Monitor Lizard.
During the search, authorities allegedly discovered Defendant Dellecave, the owner of Reptile Rage, did not possess a required permit for an Asian Monitor Lizard or several other exotic animals. The lizard was also allegedly housed in an unlocked enclosure in the front of the store that could easily have been opened by any member of the public. In addition to their bite, Water Monitors are known for using their tails and sharp claws as weapons.
Later in the day, SPCA officials went to Dellecave’s Seaford home where they allegedly found defendant Cammarata, Dellecave’s nephew, with a Gila Monster Lizard crawling out of a square storage container inside his vehicle. Gila Monsters are one of only two venomous lizards in the world, and while their bites are not deadly, they are extremely painful. Currently, there is no antivenom for Gila Monster bites.
Following a further search of the vehicle, three Gila Monsters, one alligator, two Dwarf Caimans, Five Mexican Beaded lizards, a 9mm silver handgun, shotgun, ammunition, and controlled substances were also allegedly recovered.
The investigation revealed the defendants allegedly imported some of the reptiles from Florida, where they are legal, into New York where they are illegal, for several years.
In total, 83 animals, valued on the black market at approximately $10,000 were seized during the raid. Twenty of those animals are included in the charges in the indictment.
Also, charged in the indictment were Reptile Rage, Inc. for the illegal Commercialization of Fish, Wildlife, Shellfish, Crustaceans, and Wildlife, Possession and Transportation of Wildlife, Failing to Have a Fire Alarm System, Failing to Have a Carbon Monoxide System and Failing to Comply with an Order; and D&J Reptiles Corp. for Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Wildlife, Shellfish, Crustaceans, and Wildlife.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hernan of DA Singas’ Animal Crimes Unit is prosecuting this case. Marc Gann, Esq. represents Defendants Dellecave, Reptile Rage, Inc., and D&J Reptiles Corp. Anthony Cammarata is represented by Harry Thomasson.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.