SADDLE RIVER, N.J. – A neighbor who bought a mansion in a foreclosure auction later found to be littered with the feces of the more than 100 cats and dogs living there wants out of the deal.
"When I bid on that house I was bidding on a home that I saw people living in. I saw people every day coming in and out of the house. I thought I was bidding on something habitable," Michael Acciardi, 47, told The Record of Bergen County for Saturday's newspapers.
Philip Tamis, 66, and his wife Cynthia, 49, have been charged with animal cruelty after authorities found the live animals -- along with the bodies of at least 23 dead animals decomposing inside their 3-car garage.
A DHL delivery man alerted authorities on Aug. 14 after smelling a horrible odor coming from the 20-room home and seeing animals scurrying around inside; the delivery man was worried someone had died.
Acciardi, who lives next door, paid $2.6 million for the house but never saw the interior. He was on vacation when police alerted him to the house's condition and went inside for the first time on Thursday.
"It was so bad inside that I became violently ill," Acciardi said. "Just the scent on my clothing. I had to go home and change."
Acciardi said he didn't become suspicious when Philip Tamis wouldn't let him in the house before the auction, saying the homeowner was a "private person."
Philip Tamis said the house was fine, Acciardi said.
Animal control officials said on Friday that they were still looking for animals inside the home.
Piles of feces were found in every room in the home, the two tubs in the master suite were covered in at least two inches of fecal matter, and pet food was littered around the house.
A lawyer for the couple, Santo Bonanno, has said the couple, who'd lived there for about eight years, had a long history of taking in sick and abandoned animals.
But, he said, they were going through severe financial hardships, were eventually forced to sell their home and "...things just got out of hand."