Beggar, accused of ‘pet’ scam, has ‘no intention of surrendering’
FAIRFIELD — The man accused of scamming people who tried to donate to his dog is now wanted man by police — but says he has no intention of turning himself in.
After Devonte D. Young held up a sign for several days on an intersection on Route 46 in Fairfield that read “Homeless: Puppy Eats First." But police said after he collected cash and dogfood, the latter was found tossed out nearby.
A woman went to the street that Young frequented and held a sign that read “Scam. It’s on Facebook” and “Fraud Save your Money.” She also set up a Facebook Live event to expose him. The video has since been taken down.
But Young confronted her in an argument caught on the video. “I would leave if I were you,” he’s heard on video telling her.
In the video, Young says he threw away the food because the dog didn’t eat it and he couldn’t drag around that many cans. Young denied her allegations and accused her of questioning his story because he is gay.
The woman also told police that Young threatened her with his dog, which Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna told New Jersey 101.5 was a German shepherd mix.
"I hear it was friendly," Manna said.
Young was charged with making a terroristic threat after the woman's video was reviewed by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. He agreed to turn himself in on Friday afternoon, Manna said, but was a no-show.
"Mr. Young has twice contacted the Fairfield Police Department and said he has no intention of surrendering and that he is leaving the state of New Jersey and has no intention of coming back anytime soon.," Manna said. There is a warrant for his arrest, Manna told New Jersey 101.5.
Manna said Young's last known address is in Walled Lake, Michigan, but may have a connection to Parsippany.
"If he surfaces the Fairfield Police Department will act upon that warrant," Manna said. However, the department will not be mounting an active search for Young.
Young had previously rejected attempts by police to help him by giving him the names of shelters and social services, Manna said. They investigated reports the food people has donated was found tossed out nearby.
Manna said feedback from residents on social media by phone about Young was torn. Some people were sympathetic to Young, and others who felt that panhandling at that corner was not right for anyone.
"We're bound by the law. At the time Mr. Young was not doing anything wrong. He was exercising his First Amendment rights and the police department allowed that to occur up until the time he allegedly made a threat to use his dog against another person exercising," Manna said.
Young's problem, according to Manna, was when he didn't respect other people's right to exercise that right against him.
"It's kind of a circle," he said. "He should respect the rights of another person to protest as well."