Bronx prosecutors are poised to let a councilman’s cousin off the hook for a brutal attack on a defenseless puppy last year.
Bronx Councilman Mark Gjonaj’s cousin Loro Gjonaj was hit with animal torture and abandonment charges because cops claim he dragged a beagle and tossed her out of his truck in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx last September, leaving the diminutive dog with extensive wounds.
Loro Gjonaj, 79, could go to trial or, more likely, the case could be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for the next six to 12 months. His next appearance in Bronx Criminal Court is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Local animal rights activists are furious at the lack of punishment for Loro Gjonaj, who lives in Yonkers.
“For someone to cause so much pain on such a frail animal ?— he doesn’t deserve to be given a plea bargain." said Roxanne Delgado of Bronx Animal Rights Electors, a small activist group that has been campaigning for justice for the beagle. “We have people in the Bronx who go to jail for nonviolent crimes.”
The activists suspect Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office could be showing Loro Gjonaj undue leniency since he has a relative in high places.
“With this specific case she’s turning a blind eye. And we’re thinking it’s because of his last name,” said Delgado.
Both the councilman and the DA’s office rejected the allegation.
“As a pet owner, the Councilman detests animal cruelty and does not condone the actions of this distant relative," Gjonaj spokesman Reginald Johnson said in a statement. "To insinuate this case involves him is an unprofessional political smear.”
“Whether or not they’re related would have no absolutely no bearing on the case,” said Bronx DA spokeswoman Patrice O’Shaughnessy.
Legal Aid Society, which is representing Loro Gjonaj, declined to comment. He could not be reached Wednesday.
After the dog was allegedly tossed from the back of Gjonaj’s truck on Sept. 17 ?— when she was just 4 months old ?— she was found tied to a pole with internal injuries, an eye swollen shut, and cuts on her head, back and shoulders, activists said.
The dog was renamed Cleo and has since been adopted.