A pit bull could be classified as a “deadly weapon,” says a New Jersey prosecutor, who is seeking stepped-up charges against a young couple who allegedly used their dog to threaten a man and force him to hand over his cell phone and about $100 in cash.
Edwin Rivera and Amanda Caravaglia, both 23, are looking at robbery charges after they allegedly employed their pet pit bull to commit an unusual mugging of a man on the streets of Morristown, New Jersey on September 12.
The couple, a police report says, were sitting in their car at about 9:30 pm that night when they called to a pedestrian identified by police only as “A.J.” to come over to their car.
A.J. for reasons that police did not specify, complied. But when he got there he saw that the young couple had a brown and white pit bull dog in the car with them.
Rivera and Caravaglia told A.J. that if he didn’t do what they told him to do, they would instruct the pit bull to attack him, police say. Terrified, the victim handed over his cell phone and the cash he was carrying.
Keeping their pit bull in check, Rivera and Caravaglia pulled away but A.J. got a description of the car and — presumably using a different phone — called the cops and reported the pit bull crime.
About 90 minutes later, police caught up with the couple and their pit bull.
Now the couple, who are engaged and have a 3-year-old daughter, are looking at second-degree robbery charges, which carry possible sentences of between five and 10 years in prison. Rivera and Caraviglia were initially held on $5,000 bail.
But despite pleading with the judge and prosecutors in a hearing Thursday, saying they need to be home to take care of their little girl, Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph D’Onofrio succeeded in raising the couple’s bail from $5,000 to $20,000, an amount they said they cannot pay.
In addition, D’Onofrio said that the charges against the couple may be raised to first-degree robbery because the pit bull “could qualify as a deadly weapon.”
First degree robbery is a robbery in which the perpetrators are armed with a weapon, or otherwise inflict physical harm on a victim. That charge carried a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The prosecutor said that the couple’s threat to unleash their pit bull could constitute an armed robbery.
While Rivera and Caravaglia remain in jail, the fate of their pit bull after their arrest was unclear from the police report.
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