Former Oceanside dog trainer has charges dropped against him

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Brian DeMartino, the Oceanside man and former dog trainer who stood accused of abusing both his girlfriend and the dogs under his care, has had all but one of the criminal charges against him dropped, exonerating him of the accusations that, according to DeMartino’s attorney, destroyed his livelihood.

County prosecutors, who last month filed a 14-count indictment against DeMartino stemming from allegations that he broke an order of protection, and harassed and physically abused his girlfriend, determined that she fabricated the threatening texts sent to her.

Assistant District Attorney Jed Painter of the D.A.’s animal crimes unit said at the Nassau County Courthouse last Wednesday that in light of the “completely fictitious” messages submitted to the police, the assault, aggravated harassment and contempt charges against DeMartino had no merit. As a result, the physical abuse charges against DeMartino were also dropped at the request of prosecutors.

Additionally, Painter said that after consulting with both local and national dog training experts, he had determined that video evidence shared online, which appeared to show DeMartino prodding a dog under his care with a pole, was not enough to warrant animal abuse charges.

All that remained was a single count of aggravated harassment related to threatening texts sent to Tommy Marrone, the Oceanside resident and former NYPD detective who posted the footage to Facebook in December — sent to him by DeMartino’s girlfriend — of the dog trainer jabbing the caged pit bull as the animal appeared to lunge and bite.

Marrone had previously sent his dog to DeMartino for training, and out of concern for his and others’ pets, shared the video online. It would soon go viral, and the original post has garnered more than 100,000 views. DeMartino would later send a series of threatening texts to Marrone in April.

On the condition that DeMartino pleaded guilty to the harassment charge and spend eight weeks in an anger-management program, County Judge Meryl Berkowitz agreed to reduce the misdemeanor to a violation upon his completion of the course. She then explained that his record would be sealed and hidden from the public.

Berkowitz praised the prosecutors for their thoughtful and independent investigation. Their work represented, she said, “the highest form of justice and ethics [the D.A.’s] office could display.”

A livelihood lost

In December, the controversy surrounding the video released by Marrone had reached such a fever pitch that State Sen. Todd Kaminsky held a news conference, announcing legislation, co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Missy Miller, that would require New York dog obedience trainers to apply for licenses. He cited DeMartino as the chief inspiration for the law.

Upon hearing the news that most of the charges against DeMartino had been dropped, Marrone told the Herald that he felt manipulated by DeMartino’s girlfriend, who precipitated the investigation by sending him the video. “I don’t know what to believe anymore because I was going on the word of his girlfriend,” he said, adding that he was glad the charges were dropped.

“She took advantage of us and ruined his life in the meantime,” he said. “Unfortunately, me and my wife were caught in the middle of her trying to get revenge on her boyfriend. I hate to see someone get put in jail for something they didn’t do.”

Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the D.A.’s office, declined to comment when asked if his office was pursuing criminal charges against DeMartino’s girlfriend. Her attorney, Syosset-based Brent Chapman of the firm Ezdrin & Woods P.C., said he too would not comment on an ongoing criminal matter, except to point out that she had not been charged with anything.

Demartino’s attorney, Garden City-based Adrian Diluzio, had previously told the Herald that dog training meant everything to DeMartino. Although DeMartino was never indicted on animal abuse charges, “[his] life is ruined. This guy is 40 something years old,” he said. “Everything was taken away from him. If I were him, I’d move to another state and start over.”

Currently managing a café in Long Beach, DeMartino, 45, is working on pulling his life back together. Visibly relieved after the courtroom results on June 7, he commented briefly on the now ex-girlfriend who caused him so much grief. “I could write a book about her,” he began to say, but Diluzio stopped him out of concern he might offer too much. DeMartino nodded in agreement. “I just want to be done with it.”