Former Fairfield official arraigned on allegations he beat cat to death, doused it in bleach
Ray Neuberger, a former Fairfield town official, went before a judge in Bridgeport Superior Court Wednesday after being arrested a second time for alleged animal cruelty. Neuberger, 38, appeared nonchalant, looking around and rolling his neck despite facing charges of felony animal cruelty, third degree assault and disorderly conduct. He turned himself in to Fairfield police Tuesday and was released on $30,000 bond.
Police said their investigation began in August when a cat came to VCA Shoreline with physical injuries, neurological trauma and doused in bleach.
“That liquid was, to my knowledge, in the mouth of the cat also, so it was not just on the external,” said Lt. Michael Paris.
Paris said the cat died, and an animal autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma. The alleged abuse happened at the Stone Ridge condominium complex, where Neuberger lived with a woman he was in a relationship with, according to police. They said she was the cat’s owner.
“It was unearthed that there was a domestic violence situation that took place on or around that same day of animal cruelty complaint,” explained Paris.
Police said they also found another cat in the home, which they seized just for safekeeping. It was not injured and is with Fairfield Animal Control for now. Police also thanked the staff of VCA Shoreline for alerting them to the case.
In court, the judge issued a protective order, barring Neuberger from having any contact with the woman and her pets. The judge also said Neuberger can’t be around animals without supervision while out on bond.
Members of the group Desmond’s Army Animal Law Advocates were at Neuberger’s arraignment.
“I was really physically ill last night when I heard about this case,” said Linda Pleva, vice president of Desmond’s Army. “My stomach turned, and I just sat and shook my head.”
Pleva was also in the courtroom for Neuberger’s prior animal cruelty case. He arrested in 2018, accused of abusing his fiancé’s two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. One suffered burns from boiling water; the other had broken ribs.
Attorney Ken Bernhard, with the law firm Cohen and Wolf, was the appointed animal advocate on that case. Bernhard told News 12, Neuberger went to jail for 43 days and had to make a $25,000 donation to the Bridgeport Animal Shelter while the case was pending. In exchange, Neuberger received accelerated rehabilitation, a pre-trial probation program that wiped the charges from his record. Bernhard said he was “shocked and dismayed” to learn of Neuberger’s latest arrest and would apply to be the animal advocate on this case as well.
“We carry signs outside the courtroom sometimes that say ‘Leniency=Recidivism,’ and this is just another example of that,” Pleva said. “This case also shows the direct link between animal abuse and domestic violence. I really truly hope that he’ll face some tough, tough repercussions.”
Neuberger is a former Representative Town Meeting member for Fairfield who served from 2013-2017. He also ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature in 2016.
Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick released, a statement thanking police for their thorough work in the case. “Frankly, I am in shock this defendant was arrested again for another case of animal cruelty after serving time in prison, this one resulting in the death of an innocent animal. When I was a State Representative in Hartford, I worked on legislation to strengthen the penalties for individuals who commit domestic violence that coincides with animal cruelty. This case is a prime example of why I pushed for the change in the law. I hope this case is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Neuberger is due back in court on Nov. 8.