Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Pet Shop Owner Accused of Battery With a Bearded Dragon

The owner of a Florida reptile store is facing criminal charges after allegedly slapping employees with a bearded dragon, putting the animal in his mouth, and swinging it in the air.

Benjamin Siegel, the 40-year-old owner of Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, was arrested and charged with battery and animal cruelty, reports The Sun-Sentinel. Siegel's bizarre reptile assault was reportedly captured on the store's video surveillance system.

And as you may recall, this isn't the first time Siegel and his store have made strange headlines.

Store Held Fatal Roach-Eating Contest

Siegel's store was also the site of a 2012 roach-eating contest that led to a man's death. Edward Archibald won the contest, beating out 30 competitors by eating dozens of roaches and other bugs to win a free python from Siegel's store. Unfortunately, Archibald was unable to relish his victory: He died soon after the contest ended.

Authorities later determined that Archibald, 32, had died after choking to death on bug parts and his own vomit. Archibald had signed a liability waiver prior to taking part in the contest and it doesn't appear that Siegel was ever charged with any criminal violations in connection with Archibald's death.

Battery, Animal Cruelty Alleged

Siegel is, however, facing several criminal charges for this latest incident, including two counts of battery for allegedly striking employees with the bearded dragon.

A battery occurs when one person makes intentional contact with another person that is harmful or offensive, including contact made through the use of an object, or in this case, a living reptile. Under Florida law, simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Siegel also accused of animal cruelty. Under Florida law, when a person intentionally commits an act that results in the cruel death or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering of an animal, that person may be charged with a third-degree felony.

Court records show that Siegel was charged with cocaine possession in December. Those charges are still pending, The Sun-Sentinel reports.

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