Case Snapshot
Case ID: 15650
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Judge(s): Thomas Barrett

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Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009

County: Plymouth

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 1 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Antonio Carneiro

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

A local man employed as an MBTA Transit Police K9 officer was arrested last week and charged with animal cruelty after a family dog was found dead of starvation at his Rochester home.

Antonio Carneiro, 43, of 373 County Road, is charged with one count of animal cruelty in connection with the starvation of Nitro, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois breed dog, found dead in an isolated outside cage on Carneiro's property. Carneiro has been employed by the MBTA Transit Police Department for 13 years, the last two of which as a K9 officer. He has been suspended by the MBTA pending an investigation

When the dog's emaciated body was found in January 2009, it weighed just 25 pounds. The breed averages about 65 pounds at maturity. An autopsy conducted at Tufts University Veterinary Hospital Pathology Department in Grafton confirmed that the cause of death for Nitro was starvation.

"It's very disheartening, very disheartening," Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee said. His department was involved with the investigation.

Rochester Animal Control Officer Anne Estabrook received a report of a dead dog at Carneiro's address in January. Because the town animal control officer is under the jurisdiction of the Rochester Police Department, town police also investigated. After viewing the dead dog at Carneiro's property and removing its body, investigating Rochester Police Officer Donald Kemmett called the Animal Rescue League of Boston's Law Enforcement Department to have that agency to determine whether to bring a criminal charge against Carneiro.

An autopsy was performed on Nitro Jan. 20, and it determined that "the organs all showed signs of starvation, and other than plant material, there was no food in the gastrointestinal tract." Due to the fact that there were "too many findings of starvation to list," pathologists turned over the entire autopsy report to law enforcement authorities.

Animal Rescue League of Boston police went to Carneiro's home Feb. 26 and arrested him on one count of animal cruelty.

In his report, Animal Rescue League of Boston Law Enforcement Officer Christopher Charbonneau said he asked Carneiro how Nitro ended up dead.

"Mr. Carneiro stated that the dog suffered from separation anxiety and wouldn't eat, and the dog's weight would go up and down," Charbonneau wrote in his legal narrative.

"I told Mr. Carneiro that it was unlikely that the dog would die from not eating due to separation anxiety. I then asked him where he kept the dog and he stated in the kennel in his rear yard. I then asked if he knew the dog suffered from separation anxiety, why would he isolate the dog in a kennel away from any human interaction, and he did not answer," Charbonneau wrote.

Charbonneau said he also asked Carneiro if he had taken Nitro to a veterinarian. He said he had, but the veterinarian Carneiro said he took the dog to had no record of the visit. The last time Nitro was to a vet was in 2003, when he was just a puppy. Nitro weighed 59 pounds at that time.

That same veterinarian has records of lethally injecting two of Carneiro's other dogs on the same day in 2006. The vet's records indicate that Carneiro said he wanted the dogs put down "due to separation anxiety, and he was going on vacation and didn't want to be responsible for the dogs to have anxiety and lose weight while he was on vacation."

Carneiro was released on personal recognizance the day of his arrest. He was arraigned in Wareham District Court July 8. He is scheduled to be back in court Aug. 17 for a pretrial hearing.

If convicted, Carneiro faces five years in a state prison, or 2 ½ years in a house of correction, a fine of not more than $2,500, or both fine and imprisonment.

Case Updates

A former MBTA K-9 police officer was sentenced to serve 18 months in jail for felony animal cruelty.

43-year-old Antonio Carneiro of Rochester was also given 20 years of probation during a hearing Tuesday at Wareham District Court.

In Febuarary, 2009 Carneiro was accused of starving his dog, Nitro, a six-year-old Belgian Malinois to death in an outdoor cage at his County Rd. home. The dog weighed only 25 pounds and a necropsy indicated that it may have suffered for months.

Rochester Police chief Paul Magee helped to investigate the case.
Magee told FOX 25, "How could a K-9 officer allow this to happen to his animal?"

Carniero was fired by the MBTA in 2009.

He will serve his sentence at the Plymouth House of Corrections.
Source: - May 24, 2011
Update posted on May 24, 2011 - 10:02PM 
The criminal animal abuse trial of a former MBTA K-9 Police Officer has yet another court date set for Wareham District Court.

After numerous delays and continuances, the jury trial of fired MBTA Officer Antonio Carneiro of Rochester, who is accused of starving his family dog to death, is scheduled to take place Monday, Oct. 18, in Wareham District Court, according to Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Louis Armistead.

Carneiro, 43, who is a accused of starving Nitro, his family's 6-year-old Belgian Malinois breed dog to death, will face a jury trial in Wareham District Court on one count of felony animal cruelty. The felony charge carries the possibility of five years in state prison, along with fines.

Carneiro's case had been set to go to trial April 26, but his lawyer, James P. Dillon Jr. of Buzzards Bay, submitted a motion to suppress evidence to the court in late March. The evidence Dillon sought to suppress was everything obtained during the Jan. 19, 2009 visit to Carneiro's property, including the dead dog's body, by Rochester Police, and the Rochester Animal Control officer on the grounds that it constituted an illegal search. It was during that visit that a Rochester Police Officer Donald Kemmet and Rochester ACO Kathleen Massey discovered the emaciated, frozen body of Nitro in a back kennel at Carneiro's home. The officers took photographs of Nitro's dead body lying partially snow-covered in the kennel and entered those photographs into evidence. A Tufts Veterinary School autopsy concluded that Nitro had died of starvation.

Dillon filed a motion to suppress that evidence because the "evidence was obtained as a result of the illegal entry" and "without the existence of exigent circumstances." Exigent means "a situation calling for immediate attention." Police maintain there were two phones calls alerting them to the situation at Carneiro's home.

Concurring with police officers, Wareham District Court Justice Thomas S. Barrett issued a memorandum of decision March 31, saying he discerned that police officers had a right to knock on Carneiro's door and go to the backdoor based on the reports of a dead dog, but also because of officers' "concern was heightened because they knew the resident of this address was a canine officer and they feared if his dogs were dead that he might be in jeopardy."

However, Judge Barrett agreed with the defendant's attorney, ruling that "there was no exigent circumstance that entitled them to remove the dog without a warrant…The failure to obtain that warrant requires suppress of the gathered evidence." A Plymouth County assistant district attorney has appealed the motion to suppress the evidence.

Carneiro was fired from his job as an MBTA officer following the charges, and an MBTA dog, which Carneiro kept at his home, was removed from his County Road property. Carneiro had worked as an MBTA Police office for 13 years, the last two years as a K-9 officer. He is appealing his firing from the Civil Service job.

Another trial date was set for Aug. 9, but Carneiro's attorney filed a motion for continuance in light of new evidence. The motion was granted and, barring any additional continuances, a trail jury is set to convene Monday, Oct. 18, in Wareham District Court.

"It hasn't fallen from the radar," Armistead said. "It's really just a question of the judge ruling on the evidentiary motion and then they'll go to trial."
Source: Wicked Local - Sept 30, 2010
Update posted on Oct 3, 2010 - 2:51PM 
The jury trial of a fired Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority K-9 officer charged with starving his family dog to death has been rescheduled to 9 a.m., Monday, April 26, in Wareham District Court.

A hearing on the defense's motion to suppress evidence in the case of fired MBTA K-9 officer Antonio Carneiro, 43, was heard before Judge Thomas Barrett in Wareham District Court on Jan. 8. The judge gave the prosecution and defense 10 days to supply the court with photographs taken by Rochester Police during a January 2009 visit to Carneiro’s 373 County Road property.

Judge Barrett said that he would rule on the motion as quickly as he could after receiving the photographs. As of Thursday, Feb. 4, he had not yet issued his ruling. The trial had been scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8. However, on Friday, Feb. 5, the case was continued to April 26.

Carneiro faces one count of felony animal cruelty in the death of his family pet, Nitro, a six-year-old Belgian Malinois breed, whose emaciated remains were found in an isolated area of Carneiro’s Rochester property. A Tufts University Veterinary School autopsy confirmed that the cause of Nitro’s death was starvation.

Following Carneiro’s Feb. 26, 2009 arrest, he was fired from his job as a canine police officer for the MBTA. Carneiro, a civil servant, is appealing his firing. He remains free on personal recognizant.

If convicted, Carneiro faces five years in a state prison, or two and half years in a county house of correction, a fine of not more than $2,500, or both the fine and imprisonment.
Source: WickedLocal - Feb 19, 2010
Update posted on Feb 23, 2010 - 9:52PM 


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