New York– High-flying Indian-American hotelier Vikram Chatwal has been arrested for trying to torch two small dogs outside his SoHo condo.
Chatwal, 44, posted a $50,000 bail and walked out of Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday.
Founder of the Dream Hotel Group, Chatwal was charged with animal torture, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment for the October 7 attack on Wooster St. near Grand St.
On Tuesday, Chatwal, attired in white with a grey vest, stood silently before Judge Steve Statsinger, who issued an order of protection for the two dogs — Molly and Finnegan– their owner and their dog walker, the New York Daily News reported.
Chatwal’s attorney said his client was a lifetime animal lover who suffers from a bipolar disorder but would never harm an animal.
The paper quoted witnesses as saying that Chatwal, who has a reputation for partying at clubs and dating models like Esther Cañadas, stormed up to two Jack Russell Terriers being walked outside his home at about 11.30 a.m. and singed the dogs’ fur with a blow torch that he put together from an aerosol can and a lighter, the daily reported.
The dogs suffered minor injuries when their fur was burned, officials said.
The businessman turned himself in at the 5th Precinct station house in Chinatown, with a lawyer, an NYPD spokesman said.
The hospitality magnate founded The Dream Hotel Group, which includes the Dream, Time and Unscripted hotels.
He was arrested for drug possession in 2013 at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport after TSA agents allegedly caught him trying to board a plane with heroin, cocaine and prescription pills.
He faced as many as 20 years in prison, but the case was dismissed after he completed a rehab programme in New York, the New York Post reported.