Arno arraigned on cruelty charges

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Jessie Eugene Arno, 35, Shadyside, was arraigned Monday before Belmont Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato on two counts of animal cruelty, a felony of the fifth degree occurring May 20, 2013.

He pleaded not guilty.

His pre-trial was set for Sept. 16, with plea agreement Nov. 12 and trial Nov. 26.

Bond had been set at $5,000.

This case marks Belmont County’s first felony animal abuse court proceeding. Charges stem from the death of two pit bulls and near-death of another in May, when the county humane officer discovered the dead dogs and the condition of the survivor.

Arno’s co-defendant, Becky Vittor, will face misdemeanour charges.

Arno has a 2004 conviction for animal abuse. A prior conviction is necessary to bring felony counts of animal abuse against an individual.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com