Doreen Longo has been to Woodbridge Municipal Court several times in the last few months, as she follows the legal wranglings of the pet store owner whom she says .
This time, though, the legal woes are hers.
Longo is being sued by Rocco Garruto, the owner of Fancy Pups in Avenel, for attempted assault charges. In a summons she received, Longo is being accused of trying to physically harm Garruto while they were in a waiting room outside Woodbridge Municipal Court earlier this year.
Longo, a Toms River resident, said she was speechless when she received the summons, which was filed on March 29 and requires her to be in court today.
"[Garruto] is simply unbelievable," she said.
The summons accuses Longo of "lunging [at Garruto]" during a January 26 meeting in Woodbridge Municipal Court. The owner was in court that day after being sued by the Middlesex County Department of Consumer Affairs for numerous violations of the state's "Puppy Lemon Law."
He was accused of to pet owners who didn't receive compensation for the veterinarian bills of the sick dogs, or not getting their money back after the puppies died. Garruto in court to fraud charges.
The complaint said Longo "attempted to cause bodily injury" to Garruto "in a manner that caused alarm" to the store owner. A second charge said Longo "yelled vulgarities" in the courtroom waiting area that "caused chaos" and harmed Garruto and caused him "fear and mental anguish."
Longo said Garruto's charges are completely fabricated.
"We were in the waiting room and Rocco was sitting near me. He pointed me out to his attorney and cursed at me, saying I was one of the ones who was suing him," she said.
"I said back, 'What did you call me? You puppy killer!'," Longo said. "Here I was, with a poor puppy who had no chance of living, one he sold as being healthy, and she was dying of terrible disease she got from his store, and he's in court, cursing at me for suing him!"
Longo said she was several feet away from the courtroom officer, and that the officer never moved during this encounter. "That's because there was no lunging, there was no problem, except for Rocco cursing at me for being one of the people bringing him to court."
Garruto is countersuing Longo, saying her efforts to publicize the death of her German Shepherd puppy since it died of parvovirus in December has cost .
Longo's husband and another of the Fancy Pups customers in court that day heard Garruto's cussing and they led Longo out of the waiting room because she was so upset, she said.
"He sells me a sick puppy who died of parvo less than two weeks after I bought the poor thing, and he's calling me horrible names for bringing him to court? The man is just retaliating against me for not backing down.
"He is a puppy killer!"
Garruto's then-attorney, Mark Bellotti, has since resigned from the case. : he's facing five years in jail after pleading guilty in a $2.6 million case of obtaining fraudulent mortgage loan applications.
Garruto did not return calls for comment. His new attorney, Milton Bouhoutsos, could not be reached.