Reptile shop owner charged with bearded dragon attack

Siegel Reptiles previously made headlines when a participant in a cockroach eating contest choked to death.

By Ben Hooper
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DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla., Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida arrested a pet shop owner accused of striking employees with a bearded dragon lizard and putting the reptile in his mouth.

The Broward Sheriff's Office said Benjamin Siegel, 40, owner of Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, was arrested Friday on charges of battery and animal cruelty after he allegedly put the bearded dragon lizard in his mouth, swung it through the air, used it to strike employees and threw it.


"The defendant did unnecessarily torment the animal, handling the animal in a cruel and/or inhumane manner and intentionally committed an act to the animal which results in excessive and repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to the animal," the arrest report said.

The report said the incident was recorded by the store's security camera.

Ken Padowitz, Siegel's attorney, said he will "vigorously defend" the store owner.

"I'm in the process of conducting an investigation and looking into all the facts so I can best represent my client against these allegations," Padowitz told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"I've known Mr. Siegel for some period of time," he said. "He runs a very successful business and I want to be able to know all the facts before I comment on them specifically."


Siegel, who also has a pending cocaine possession charge from a Christmas Eve arrest, made national headlines in October 2012 when Edward Archbold, 32, choked to death on insect parts and his own vomit after winning a cockroach-eating contest at Siegel Reptiles.

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