FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Broward Sheriff's Office on Thursday filed an additional charge of animal cruelty against Jason Simione, the 39-year-old accused of plotting to kill his wife, her mother, and her brother.
Deputies arrested Simione on Monday. He was charged with three counts of solicitation to commit murder, possession of a destructive device, and child abuse. A judge ordered he be held on $5 million bond.
The animal cruelty charge stemmed from past incidents where his wife and coworkers saw Simione beating his wife's 4-year-old Italian mastiff, including hitting it with a two-by-four and punching it in the face, according to an arrest affidavit.
"The dog would cry repeatedly, and allegedly he would not allow his wife to take the dog to the vet for medical care," said Dani Moschella with the Broward Sheriff's Office. "He admitted beating the dog but he said he did it to protect a smaller dog."
When Simione was arrested, deputies took the dog to Broward Animal Care and Control for treatment. The dog was then released back to his wife, who gave him to a rescue mission.
A hearing for Simione about the animal cruelty charge was postponed until Friday morning.
BSO: Simione offered $150,000 for the murders
Deputies found he fortified his Dania Beach home and stocked it with more than $1 million worth of loaded, high-powered firearms, ammunition, and bomb-making materials.
"I know what he wanted it for. I'm not going to comment on what he wanted it for, but there are reasons other than something that's alleged in a probable cause affidavit for someone to feel that they need to be protected themselves," said Dave Bogenschutz, Simione's attorney.
Wife, coworkers allege Simione used steroids
Simione's wife told deputies he abused illegal steroids in the last few months, then began acting delusional and violent. A source told Local 10 that Simione said he was taking over-the-counter "equine-anabolic supplements" -- performance enhancers meant for horses.
His wife told him in June that she wanted a divorce and moved out with their son. On Saturday, she filed a temporary injunction against Simione.
"This was a guy who only wanted to see his child. If you read the divorce case, he believe she (his wife) was off to Japan," said Susan Brown, Simione's divorce lawyer.
Simione filed a petition for dissolution of marriage and challenged his wife's moral fitness and mental and physical health.
"It's a shame," said Brown. "You see this a lot in family court. One person pushes the other's buttons and that's what I see is going on. The story hasn't been told. It's going to come out."
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