Montclair man arraigned in Newark on animal cruelty charges
By ERIN ROLL
A Montclair man accused of animal cruelty after a road rage video went viral on the internet pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance on Tuesday.
Marc Dionne, 22, appeared before Judge Sybil Elias in Essex County Superior Court in Newark on a charge of fourth-degree animal cruelty. One charge is for purposely, knowingly and recklessly abusing an animal, and the other charge is for afflicting serious bodily injury on an animal.
Dionne’s next court date is scheduled for Sept. 8. He and his family declined to comment to the media as they were leaving the pre-trial intervention office.
On July 12, Dionne was involved in an altercation with Saddle Brook resident Gary Keay at the intersection of Bloomfield and Gates avenues. Another motorist taped the altercation, which was both physical and verbal, and posted the video online.
It was during that time that Dionne reached into Keay’s minivan, pulled out Keay’s dog — a miniature pinscher named Daphne — and threw the dog onto the sidewalk before driving away. Keay’s wife, Linda, and their infant granddaughter were also in the vehicle at the time.
The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been investigating the incident.
In the Montclair Police Department report, Dionne and Keay offered conflicting accounts of how the altercation had started. Dionne claimed that it had been Keay that had been driving aggressively, while Keay claimed that it had been Dionne who had instigated the confrontation.
Dionne’s account of the story indicated that Keay had cut him off at Lloyd Road, and that when Dionne tried to get around him, Keay honked his horn and made rude gestures before getting out of his van at Gates and Bloomfield.
Keay’s version, however, claimed that Dionne had been weaving in and out of traffic on Bloomfield Avenue at a high rate of speed, and that he had tried to gesture to Dionne to slow down, He also claimed in the report that Dionne had been the first to exit his vehicle when both were stopped at Gates and Bloomfield.
In the police report, Dionne was cited as saying that he had thrown the dog from the vehicle in an attempt to distract Keay, and that he had tried to call 911 after driving away. The dog sustained minor injuries.
During the arraignment, Essex County prosecutor Anthony R. Higgins said his office was awaiting the final report from the NJSPCA, but that it was his understanding that the dog was recovering from her injuries.
As of the date of the arraignment, Dionne had not yet retained private counsel, and was making arrangements to be represented by the public defender’s office. It was noted during the arraignment that Dionne had received his court summons only the day before via ordinary mail.