Charges dropped against rescue group accused of stealing pit bull

Russell Wayne "Wolf" Harper and pit-bull pal Rocky.
Russell Wayne "Wolf" Harper and pit-bull pal Rocky.
Posted: January 09, 2014

JUSTICE RESCUE, a team of brawny, tattooed dog-lovers, has finally gotten some justice over an ordeal with a Northeast Philly pit bull, the group's lawyer said.

Two members of the animal-rescue group, Russell Wayne "Wolf" Harper and Robert John "House" Lewis, were arrested in February and charged with impersonating a law-enforcement officer, theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy for allegedly taking a pit bull in November 2012 from a property near Frankford Avenue and Orthodox Street.

Justice Rescue said the dog's owner, Oren Barzeski, signed Rocky over to them after multiple people had complained about the dog's living quarters on a car lot. The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigated afterward, and Harper and Lewis were charged.

On Dec. 30, however, the charges were dropped after Barzeski did not appear in court, said Jack McMahon, a lawyer who represents Justice Rescue.

"There was no case, there never was," McMahon said.

Sarah Eremus, a spokeswoman for the PSPCA, said it was disappointing that Barzeski didn't show up. She said it was important that "citizens know that anyone representing themselves as one of our officers is indeed one of our officers."

Harper, in a statement, said the entire ordeal was a waste of everyone's time.

"We were made out to look like biker outlaw thugs that are vigilantes by the news and D.A.'s office, when in fact we are the opposite," Harper said. "Justice Rescue is here to protect animals, and we are not going anywhere."


Twitter: @JasonNark

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