NEPTUNE – Two people who had an illegal alligator suddenly had to get rid of it, officials said. In a scheme that would have worked in an episode of a sitcom, they decided to call police and pretend they found the gator.
Good Samaritans told police about the 3-foot-long alligator in an abandoned lot, but it turns out the Samaritans were actually the ones who put it there, according to an investigation by Monmouth County SPCA Humane Law Enforcement. The owner of the animal was Savion Mendez of East Orange. The “finder” was Angel Rosario of Asbury Park.
Mendez bought the juvenile alligator from a reptile expo in Pennsylvania and was keeping him in a 150-gallon tank. He was evicted from his East Orange home, and moved to the Twinbrook Apartment Complex in Ocean Township, officials said. However, he and his new roommates were again facing eviction.
Rosario offered to take alligator off his friend’s hands, but his parents wouldn’t let him keep it. So, the alligator was placed in the empty lot and Neptune Police were called.
“We know now that at no point surrounding these circumstances was the alligator left in a dangerous or life-threatening situation,” the MCSPCA said.
Mendez will face charges by the NJ Department of Fish & Wildlife for keeping a prohibited and dangerous exotic species, officials said. Rosario and his parents face charges of falsifying a police report.
The alligator is currently living at the Cape May Zoo.
MCSPCA Executive Director, Ross Licitra said, “We’d like to thank our Humane Law Enforcement Division who works in conjunction with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office for investigating this case promptly and professionally. We’re also grateful for the assistance of the public, who gave us key information bringing us to the conclusion of this case.”