A New Jersey man who had claimed he was raising ducks, chickens, turkeys and exotic birds as a hobby was actually butchering them illegally, according to the local mayor who busted the suspect after an unannounced visit to his home.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli said he had suspected Eugenio Oramas was not just keeping the birds for pleasure, and when he popped by his house on Sunday, he found a 55-gallon drum of feathers and feet, along with knives and other butchering tools. Gonnelli also encountered six others at the home, sitting around a fire.
Gonnelli's suspicions were first raised after police received a call about a month ago that Oramas was illegally keeping birds. A city official went to his home and interviewed him, and he claimed he kept birds as a hobby, and said he didn't know he wasn't allowed to have them. The town notified him he wasn't allowed to keep the birds and gave him a few weeks to relocate the birds to a farm.
"He actually pleaded with us that this was a hobby, that he brought kids here to see the birds and that he would never harm them," said Gonnelli.
"I did not trust anything he said," he said.
So the mayor went by the home on Secaucus Road Sunday, and called police after finding the birds were still there, along with evidence they were being butchered.
"I pulled up and I saw three that were already plucked and beheaded," said Gonnelli. "I kind of freaked out."
Officials confiscated the birds and Oramas is charged with 51 counts of animal cruelty, one for each animal found.
The six other people found at the home have not been charged.
"It's not the way you treat your animals," said animal control officer Geoffrey Santini. "We live with animals, we treat animals like we treat people. This gentleman unfortunately didn't do the right thing, and now he'll be charged."
It was not immediately clear whether Oramas had an attorney.
-- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.