AUBURN — A local pastor pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge this week after he was caught on video abandoning a cat behind Marden's discount store in Lewiston.
Joseph Mallozzi, pastor at Auburn Baptist Church, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lewiston District Court. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
Mallozzi, of 18 Hillview Lane, Lewiston, was charged in June after police investigated a suspicious crate left in the lot behind Marden's. Police said an officer had witnessed a man in a classic car leaving the crate before driving away.
Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout went to the scene and found a cat inside the crate. The animal was unharmed and was taken to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, just around the corner.
Police did not know who had abandoned the cat. But they got an investigative assist from security cameras trained on the area around Marden's. They viewed footage of the incident, police said, and were able to zoom in on the license plate of the car.
It was a classic 1951 Ford owned by Mallozzi. When questioned about the matter, Mallozzi claimed he had left the crate to be picked up by a friend. However, no such friend was identified.
The case was handed over to the District Attorney's Office, which went forward with the charge of cruelty to animals.
Mallozzi, born and raised in Rhode Island, joined the Auburn Baptist Church in 1985, according to the church's website.