Two Long Island men are accused of training pit bulls to fight, a regimen that included sharpening their teeth with files and using a device to strengthen their jaw muscles.
Marlon Bernier, 25, and Ricardo Louis, 22, have been indicted on felony animal cruelty charges by a Nassau County grand jury.
Prosecutors say the men operated a dogfighting business out of their Elmont, N.Y., home, where they housed the dogs in backyard kennels.
Authorities said some of the dogs had facial injuries, some were bleeding from the mouth and four had their ears cropped, which can indicate dogfighting preparation. Blood was also found on the ground.
The suspects also had rigged a spring apparatus to a basketball hoop that they used to strengthen the dogs' jaws, prosecutors allege.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice says the pair advertised their business online, selling pit bull puppies for about $700 each.
“These two defendants turned animal cruelty into a lucrative business enterprise,” Rice said in a statement. “The injuries inflicted on these animals and the suffering they endured is shocking.”
Bernier was convicted in June 2010 of misdemeanor animal cruelty after he trained pit bulls to fight and then used them to menace police officers. He was prohibited from owning or keeping animals at that time.
Bernier's attorney, William Kephart, says his client "steadfastly denies" the charges. Peter Bongiorno, who represents Louis, said there was no evidence linking his client to the accusations.