Did any one else see this?
NEW YORK (Feb. 9) - Just call him Fred, undercover kitten.
The 8-month-old stray cat found in Brooklyn posed as a would-be patient to help police nab a man they say was pretending to be a veterinarian.
Steven Vassall, 28, was arrested last week and charged with treating an untold number of pets without a license, authorities said. He was released on $2,500 bail.
Fred sported a tiny badge on his collar as he posed for photos with owner Carol Moran, a prosecutor, at a news conference Wednesday.
"He's pretty easygoing, a real Brooklyn guy," Moran said.
The tabby shared the spotlight with Burt the Boston terrier, another of Vassall's alleged victims.
Burt's owner, Raymond Reid, contacted authorities after the dog survived a botched operation. In hindsight, he said, he should have been suspicious of a veterinarian who only made house calls and treated animals at an undisclosed location.
Vassall "seemed like a genuinely nice guy," Reid said. "I'm glad they caught him, but at the same time I feel sorry for him."
Last week, an investigator posing as Fred's owner summoned Vassall to an apartment rigged with a hidden camera. Authorities played a videotape at the news conference showing the defendant saying the kitten could be neutered for $135.
Vassall was arrested as he left the apartment carrying Fred in a box and cash for the operation. Investigators later recovered a price list for vaccinations and other procedures, including surgeries.
It was unclear how long Vassall - a college student who once worked as a laboratory assistant in a vet's office - allegedly scammed pet owners before Fred helped put him out of business.
Joyce Clemmons of the nonprofit Animal Care and Control, which rescued Fred, predicted the kitten had a future in law enforcement.
"He's going to be the detective for the animal world," she said.