A Downey man was arrested Thursday in connection with more than 50 criminal charges stemming from the sale of 28 puppies -- most of whom subsequently died, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Gustavo Gonzalez, 26, is charged with 28 felony counts of cruelty to an animal, along with one felony count each of first-degree residential burglary and grand theft. He also is charged with 22 misdemeanor counts of petty theft.
Gonzalez is accused of selling the puppies to 25 families throughout Southern California between February 2018 and April 2019, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The puppies -- who were sold through the website craigslist -- included a French bulldog, a chocolate lab and a beagle, according to Ricardo Santiago of the District Attorney's Office.
Top news of the day
Most of the puppies died after being sold, according to prosecutors.
Gonzalez, whose bail was set at $740,000, was taken into custody by Downey police, Santiago said.
He is due in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment Monday on a case in which he could face up to 36 years behind bars if convicted as charged.
The case stems from an investigation by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, the District Attorney's Office's Bureau of Investigation and the Downey Police Department.
"Families expect years of joy and great memories when they purchase a puppy. The last thing they should expect is to see their companion suffer pain or early death," Joseph M. Nicchitta, director of the county's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, said in the statement. "No business model should profit by exploiting unsuspecting families."
Anyone who bought a dog from Gonzalez that had unexpected health issues or premature death was asked to call a Department of Consumer and Business Affairs consumer counselor by telephone at 800-593-8222 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.