Negligent Canine Owner Avoids Doghouse by a Hairbreadth
Mayor Bloomberg has made a lot of noise about keeping up the pressure on quality-of-life crimes. But one doubts he has it in him to send out mini–SWAT teams-like the one sent out on Dec. 28 under Mayor Giuliani’s reign-to arrest citizens caught with their dogs off their leashes.
The perp is a Central Park West resident who prefers to remain anonymous because he’s currently job hunting and (the job market being what it is) doesn’t want potential employers to discover that he has a rap sheet. The perp, whom we’ll call John, was waking up at around 7:30 a.m. on the aforementioned morning when, he said, he heard somebody knock on his door.
Indeed, if John appeared groggy to his guests, it was only because, despite all, he’s a fan of the former Mayor and had stayed up to watch him on The Late Show with David Letterman . “I opened my door,” John recalled, “and there stood three fairly good-sized guys in plainclothes. They pulled back their jackets and had their badges hanging around their necks.”
The men asked John his name and allegedly told him, “We have a warrant for your arrest.”
“I said, ‘For what?’” John recounted, “and they said, ‘Did you receive a ticket on Feb. 20 for not walking your dog on a leash and not pay it?”
John admits he played slightly dumb. He did remember getting a ticket and not paying it, though he said he received none of the customary reminders or penalty letters. The police, though, didn’t buy the act. “One of them said, ‘Maybe when we put the cuffs on you and take you downtown, that will help you remember,’” said John.
(A spokesperson in the office of the deputy commissioner for public information declined to comment on this particular case, but said that, in general, “when you don’t appear in court, a bench warrant can be issued for your arrest.”)
The cops entered the apartment and stepped over the villain’s co-conspirator, a canine named Ellie. According to her owner, on the day in question he was walking Ellie in Central Park at around 7 in the evening.
“She’s a golden retriever,” John explained. “So she’s somewhat obsessed with always having a tennis ball or something in her mouth. She walks 10 paces behind me and carries the leash as we walk through the park. It’s clipped on her.”
While this trick instantly wins over the average dog lover’s heart, it didn’t fool the cop who spotted them (and who, no doubt, had a quota of tickets to write). “While he’s writing the ticket,” John recalled, “he said, ‘I’m so embarrassed to have to do this, but that’s my boss over there. I’m a dog owner. Obviously you have a nice dog.’ I thought he was basically saying, ‘I’m not going to turn this in, but I have to pretend like I’m writing.’ That’s the reason I didn’t pay it.”
On the fateful morning of his arrest, John said that he got dressed with the police watching him, lest he be tempted to make a break for it. “I kind of half-jokingly said, ‘You wouldn’t mind if I walk my dog first before we go down there?’” John recalled. “I think at that point they started realizing how ridiculous they looked and sounded, and they started talking among themselves.”
According to John, the cops offered him a deal: If he promised to go to court and pay his ticket by Monday (their visit occurred on a Friday), they wouldn’t put him through the system. John agreed to do so with alacrity-just as soon as he got back from walking his dog.
A couple of hours later, said John, he was in court, but it bore little resemblance to the one in Inherit the Wind . The number of court personnel, including court officers, clerks and lawyers, far outnumbered the defendants, and the judge-who, according to John, was a gentleman who had already outfoxed the biblical life span-appeared to be napping.
Thirty or 40 minutes later, the wheels of justice ground into action. A computer spit out rap sheets; a public defender arrived; the suspect was called to the bench; and the vicious crime of which he’d been accused was announced for all to hear.
“As I’m going up there,” said John, “a lady says, ‘You shouldn’t have done that.”
John said the public defender explained to the judge that the case wasn’t the slam-dunk the NYPD had portrayed. Indeed, Ellie was technically on her leash; it just happened to be in her mouth, rather than looped around her owner’s hand.
“He promises not to do it again,” the lawyer said.
“The judge looks up and says, ‘Dismissed! Don’t do it again,’” John reported. “I went down there thinking I was going to have to serve jail time, [and end up] having the case dismissed. To send three guys to my door to arrest me and then dismiss it? I don’t have to pay a fine or anything.”
However, the incident has taught John a valuable lesson. Ellie is now always leashed. But just in case anyone believes the pet owner is a pathological criminal who thinks that pets can do no wrong, John wants it to be known that when he walks Ellie, he carries not one but two baggies-just in case.
“In fact,” he said, “a couple of nights ago some woman was walking away, and I said, ‘Are you not going to pick that up?’ I hate to see people do that.”
One should never talk to strangers on the street, even if they’re lovely young vixens, as a middle-aged gentleman discovered on Jan. 11. The victim, an East 83rd Street resident, was walking home from a friend’s house when he encountered the suspects, both approximately 25 years old.
One of them wore a dress with a fur coat, the other a dress with a fur jacket. A friendship developed at breathtaking speed, and the ladies accompanied the gentleman to an A.T.M. at 79th Street and York Avenue.
However, as soon as he inserted his card into the slot and punched in his P.I.N., things got funny. “Hit 800!” one of the females ordered the other. Her friend complied, and $800 popped out of the machine.
The ladies grabbed the money, as well as their new friend’s wallet (which contained $100 in cash), and fled northbound in a yellow cab, apparently before their victim knew what was happening.
Their crime spree didn’t end there. They also charged $200 to the man’s American Express card before he could cancel it. There was a bit of good news, however: The victim told police that the bank had captured his relationship with the ladies, fleeting though it was, on its security camera.