LOS ANGELES – Two men accused of dumping a 7-foot alligator in an urban lake are facing charges that could add up to several years in jail if each is convicted.
Todd Natow, 42, was charged with 14 misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of restricted animals, releasing an alligator into the lake, causing a public nuisance and marijuana possession, the city attorney's office announced Thursday.
Anthony Brewer, 36, faces six misdemeanor charges including many of the same counts. Each count carries a maximum penalty of six months to one year in jail as well as a possible $1,000 fine.
Since being released into Harbor Regional Park's Machado Lake, the reptile come to be known as Reggie. Residents have come in droves to the lake in hopes of catching a glimpse of the reptile.
But despite Reggie's notoriety, city officials have not been amused by the situation.
"These guys should not have thought they could get away with this," Councilwoman Janice Hahn said. "We have spent hundreds of thousands on overtime and other costs related to catching Reggie, and the lake has been closed off to the public for months."
Professional wranglers brought in over several months to snare Reggie have all failed. Reggie is now thought to be in hibernation.
Brewer and Natow, who worked as a police officer for the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years before leaving in 2001, were arrested in August.
Police raided Natow's home and recovered three alligators, four piranha fish, one rattlesnake, three desert tortoises, six desert tortoise eggs, one scorpion and six marijuana plants.
Evidence of an alligator habitat, photographs of alligators, narcotics and two live snapping turtles were found at Brewer's home, police said.
The defendants, both of the city's San Pedro section, were out on bail pending their Feb. 15 arraignment, authorities said Thursday.
It was unclear whether they had retained defense attorneys. A message left at a number listed for Natow was not returned; Brewer's number was unlisted.