A 75-year-old Toms River man who was charged earlier this year with animal cruelty for allegedly euthanizing his elderly dog by locking it in a car and piping in exhaust fumes has pleaded guilty and will likely receive probation at sentencing, officials confirmed.
Clifford Robbins pleaded guilty to a third degree animal cruelty charge on Monday, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Robbins entered the guilty plea before Superior Court Judge James Blaney, who scheduled sentencing for March 1.
As part of the plea, prosecutors recommended Clifford be sentenced to non-custodial probation with a mental health evaluation, Della Fave said, plus a waiver of his right to own additional animals for the rest of his life. Robbins would be able to keep a cat he currently owns, however the SPCA will conduct random home visits to monitor the cat’s welfare, Della Fave said.
The crime to which Robbins pleaded guilty carries a sentence of anywhere between one and five years of probation.
“If he was to break any of these stipulations, of course, he’s looking at incarceration,” said Della Fave.
Robbins was indicted in August for the April 14 incident, in which Robbins placed the dog, named Mocha, in a crate and then put the crate in his car before running a line from the vehicle’s exhaust inside. The dog ultimately died.
Toms River officials decided against pursuing municipal charges, leading the NJSPCA to bring the case to the attention of the county prosecutor’s office. The case spurred protests at several Toms River township council meetings earlier this year and spawned a “Justice for Mocha” group on Facebook.