D.A. Bragg Announces Prison Sentence of Jose Rivera In Dogfighting Ring Operation

December 7, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the sentencing of JOSE RIVERA, 59, to 4.5 years in state prison for participating in a dogfighting ring and abusing dozens of dogs in Washington Heights between September 2018 and October 2019. On November 14, 2023, RIVERA pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and one count of Causing Any Animal to Engage in Animal Fighting. He is prohibited from owning any animal for 10 years. 

“Jose Rivera threatened and endangered the lives of dogs with this despicable dogfighting ring,” said District Attorney Bragg. “In addition to abusing animals, Jose Rivera knowingly possessed narcotic drugs with the intent to sell them, putting the safety of New Yorkers at risk. Today’s sentencing demonstrates that animal cruelty will never be tolerated in New York.” 

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, and as admitted in the defendant’s guilt plea, dogfights took place on September 29, 2018, and again on June 8, 2019. Additional dogfights had been planned, but RIVERA was unable to carry them out. 

RIVERA trained dogs in the Washington Heights building where he was employed as a live-in superintendent. In October 2019, Investigators seized ten pit bulls, two non-fighting dogs, multiple treadmills and breaking sticks, and a dead dog found in his freezer. Investigators also discovered four kilograms of heroin and three kilograms of fentanyl in brick, powder, and rock form. Further investigation revealed that RIVERA acted as a large-scale distributor and supplier to other narcotics dealers in the tristate area. Investigators additionally seized two loaded handguns from his bedroom. 

Assistant D.A.s Lauren Di Giovanni and Alexander Owen handled the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Jeremy Glickman, Bureau Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, as well as Executive Assistant D.A. Susan Hoffinger, Chief of the Investigation Division. 

District Attorney Bragg thanked the NYPD, particularly Detectives Dennis Steele and Emilio Gomez, for its assistance with the case, as well as the ASPCA, particularly Legal Advocacy Counsel Erin Satterthwaite, for its work on behalf of the dogs recovered in the investigation. 


Defendant Information:


New York, NY 


  • Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Causing Any Animal to Engage in Animal Fighting, a class E felony, 1 count 


  • 4.5 years in state prison
  • 2 years post-release supervision