A Seaside Heights man whose trial in the beating death of a small dog was due to begin last week was already incarcerated in another state on a separate charge, forcing the trial to be delayed, officials said.
Nicholas Piccolino, 34, of Seaside Heights, failed to appear for his April 10, 2017 scheduled arraignment on the charge of one count of Animal Cruelty in the third degree for causing serious bodily injury and death to a 10-year-old female Bichon Frise dog named “Booshu”. His attorney requested the court grant an adjournment due to him presently being incarcerated and serving a 20 day sentence in New York City for a shoplifting charge.
His nonappearance prompted Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney, at the request of Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Heidi Tannenbaum-Newman, to issue a bench warrant for his arrest and extradition to Ocean County upon his release, with a bail set at $20,000 cash.
According to prosecutors, the animal cruelty case and Piccolino’s subsequent indictment stems from an animal abuse incident reported on Aug. 19, 2016, at approximately 9:55 pm, to the Seaside Heights Police Department. Booshu’s owner alleged that Piccolino, who was alone with the dog in her kitchen, caused the dog’s death. An investigation by NJSPCA Detective Sgt. Larry Donato, with assistance from the Seaside Heights Police Department, determined that during Piccolino’s time alone with Booshu, a resident of the house upstairs heard several loud banging sounds and a dog yelping in the kitchen below. Shortly after, Piccolino notified the dog’s owner that something was wrong with her dog. Booshu’s owner found the dog dead on the floor of the bathroom. Piccolino claimed that Booshu “dirtied” herself in her crate and that while he was cleaning her up, he dropped her.
Booshu was transported to Red Bank Animal Hospital where she was pronounced dead upon arrival. A subsequent necropsy performed on Booshu by Dr. Shannon Swist of the NJ Animal Health Diagnostic Lab found that Booshu suffered multiple blunt force injuries to her head and body which contributed to her death.
On September 13, 2016, having received the necropsy report and having completed witness interviews, Donato presented his findings to Tannenbaum-Newman who approved third degree charges of Torment, torture, unnecessarily or cruelly beating a living animal resulting in their death. Bail was set at $35,000 cash.