Appolonia, 50, of Aberdeen is alleged to have tortured and killed 19 cats given to him by animal rescuers when he answered their newspaper ads offering the felines for free to a good home.
Some of the people who gave Anthony Appolonia the cats were sobbing uncontrollably as they heard him admit to Superior Court Judge Edward M. Neafsey that he beat each of the cats with his own hands, breaking their bones, before drowning them in his bathtub.
"You broke their bones with your hands?'' Neafsey asked Appolonia, who responded affirmatively.
"You held the cats under the water in the bathtub until they could no longer breathe?'' the judge asked, to which Appolonia also answered that he did.
'It's horrible,'' John Casale of Matawan said afterward. "These are innocent animals. What pushes a person to do this?''
Casale brought his suspicions about Appolonia to the attention of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in December, after he went to Appolonia's house, knowing he had recently been given many cats, but found that none of the felines there.
Appolonia pleaded guilty to each of the 19 counts of animal cruelty that had been filed against him. Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Nicole Colucci said the state will recommend that Appolonia receive a five-year prison term when he is sentenced Dec. 4.
Under a plea bargain with Appolonia, he will forbidden for life from owning any animals, a restriction that will be enforced by the state Parole Department.
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