Prosecutors charged two New Jersey health officials after an investigation revealed hundreds of animals were illegally euthanized.
Photo: ilyessuti/Pixabay
Photo: ilyessuti/Pixabay

Prosecutors: 2 NJ officials charged after 'hundreds' of dogs, cats illegally euthanized

>> Read more trending news 

Jerry Plunkett, 62, the Hamilton health director, and Todd Bencivengo, 56, the town’s former supervisor of the animal shelter, each were charged with two counts of third-degree animal cruelty and one count each of second-degree official misconduct, according to a news release from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to, the prosecutor’s office began its investigation of the shelter after receiving two complaints. The Humane Law Enforcement Unit of the prosecutor’s officer determined the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter euthanized 236 cats and 93 dogs, according to a news release.

New Jersey law requires animal shelters to hold animals -- or put them up for adoption -- for at least seven days before deciding to euthanize them, reported.

"Today is a sad day for Hamilton Township,” Democratic council members Jeff Martin, Rick Tighe and Anthony Carabelli Jr. said in a joint statement. “Council, along with the shelter investigation sub-committee, are reviewing the charges and information brought to light by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and will take all appropriate steps after completing their review. Our goal remains the same: to have a shelter which treats all animals humanely.”

Plunkett and Bencivengo are scheduled to appear May 21 in Superior Court of Mercer County, reported.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.