D.A. Bragg Announces Indictment In Arson That Killed Two Puppies

June 6, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. today announced the indictment of WATTIE FOLK, 53, for locking seven dogs, including six puppies, inside of a Harlem apartment that he set on fire. Two of the puppies died as a result of the fire, which included severe smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide exposure. FOLK is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with one count of Arson in the Second Degree, seven counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, and seven counts of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals.[1]  

“We allege that Wattie Folk set fire to this apartment knowing that it would put the lives of these helpless dogs at risk. The fire endangered the people living in the building, killed two puppies, and severely injured five other dogs,” said District Attorney Bragg. “People and animals should be safe in their homes, and we will prosecute those who endanger their lives.” 

According to court documents and statements made on the record, prior to the fire on June 24, 2022, FOLK was staying at his friend’s apartment in Harlem. They got into an argument, which turned physical. His friend fled the apartment and called the police.

At approximately 1:40 a.m., FOLK started a fire inside the bedroom of the apartment. He then fled the apartment, leaving one 3-year-old adult Pitbull and six 5.5-month-old puppies inside. In addition to the deaths of two puppies, the other five dogs required immediate medical attention, which included receiving oxygen in an ambulance as they were transported to the Animal Medical Center (AMC) in Manhattan. The other five dogs were found severely dehydrated, coughing, and covered in soot. All of the dogs were suffering from high levels of carbon monoxide exposure.

They were all brought to AMC and survived following intensive medical care before being transferred to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Hospital where they received treatment for weeks. The victim’s apartment and belongings were destroyed in the fire.

Assistant D.A. Sophie Robart (Attorney-in-Charge of the Animal Cruelty Program) is handling the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Elizabeth Clerkin and Phil Gary (Deputy Chiefs of Trial Bureau 30), Erin Tierney (Chief of Trial Bureau 30) and Executive Assistant D.A. Lisa DelPizzo (Chief of the Trial Division). Former Trial Preparation Assistant Aiden Connerty also provided valuable assistance in this case.

D.A. Bragg thanked the New York City Police Department, particularly the 28th Precinct. He also thanked the Albert Crawford (Arson and Explosion Squad), the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), Todd Velten (Fire Marshall), and the staff at both the Animal Medical Center and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Defendant Information:
Queens, N.Y.

  • Arson in the Second Degree, a class B felony, one count
  • Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, a class E felony, seven counts
  • Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals, a class A misdemeanor, seven counts


[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.