Cesar Cuellar and Anthony Villalta face up to two to seven years in prison
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that two brothers surrendered this morning to the Nassau County Police Department on indictment charges related to a January dog attack of a nine-year old boy in Westbury.
Cesar Cuellar, 27, of East Meadow, and Anthony Villalta, 19, of Westbury, were arraigned today before Acting Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz on charges of Reckless Assault in the 2nd Degree (a D felony), Reckless Assault in the 3rd Degree (an A misdemeanor), Negligent Assault in the 3rd Degree (an A misdemeanor) and Reckless Endangerment in the 2nd Degree (an A misdemeanor). The defendants were released on their own recognizance and are due back in court on April 21. If convicted of the top charge, the men face up to two to seven years in prison.
“The victim’s injuries were so severe that he nearly died in this dog mauling incident,” DA Singas said. “Thanks to the quick work of Nassau County Police Department, Good Samaritans and his brother, the victim is alive and recuperating.”
DA Singas said that on Jan. 27, 2016, at approximately 3:10 p.m. on Sylvan Lane/Wilson Ave., in Westbury, a nine-year old boy was walking home from his school with his older brother when two dogs, a black and white pit bull mix named “Rocky,” and a tan mixed breed named “Tori,” ran down Wilson Ave, without leashes or guardians, and allegedly attacked the victim.
Rocky allegedly bit and latched on to the victim’s leg near the knee, while the other dog was standing near, barking and biting at the victim’s brother. The victim and his brother tried for minutes to beat the dog off with their fists, legs, sticks, books, and anything they could find. Two passersby came and helped to get the dogs off of the victim and put him in a vehicle until emergency services arrived. The dogs ran away from the scene before the police arrived.
The victim suffered deep lacerations to his left leg, extensive muscle damage, tissue damage, bone exposure and blood loss. The victim also suffered bite wounds on his right leg and left arm. The older brother was unharmed. The actions of the brother, the two Good Samaritans and arriving NCPD personnel helped in saving the victim’s life.
The dogs were later found at a nearby house where a neighbor had corralled them into his backyard. The dogs were taken by animal control to an undisclosed location.
Brothers Cesar Cuellar and Anthony Villalta were both allegedly custodians of the dogs at the time of the incident. The defendants were allegedly aware that the dogs that attacked the victim, and that Rocky had been involved in multiple prior attacks – including three prior attacks in the previous three months, two attacks on dogs and one human attack. Villalta allegedly let the dogs into the yard from where they got loose and had done so in the past.
The victim was treated at a local hospital and underwent surgery to repair his leg.
The defendants surrendered this morning to the Nassau County Police Department Third Squad.
Assistant District Attorneys Alexander Lev and Laura Sarowitz of DA Singas’ Animal Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case. Cuellar was represented at arraignment by Jeffrey Groder, Esq., while Villalta was represented by Patrick Kaufman, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.