A former police officer and another man were charged Thursday with dumping an alligator into an urban lake where it has thwarted would-be captors and gained a following.
Authorities say Todd Natow, 42, and Anthony Brewer, 36, released the 7-foot reptile earlier this summer into Harbor Regional Park’s Machado Lake, where it has become known by the public as “Reggie.”
Natow, who worked for the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years before leaving in 2001, and Brewer were charged with unlawful possession of restricted animals, releasing an alligator into the lake, causing a public nuisance and marijuana possession, the city attorney’s office said.
The men, both of Los Angeles, were arrested in August after officers raided Natow’s home and found marijuana, as well as several alligators, piranha fish, a rattlesnake and three tortoises.
Police also found evidence of an alligator habitat and photographs of alligators. They believe Reggie was dumped in the 53-acre lake when he got too big to keep as a pet.
“These guys should not have thought they could get away with this,” Councilwoman Janice Hahn said. “We have spent hundreds of thousands on overtime and other costs related to catching Reggie, and the lake has been closed off to the public for months.”
The reptile has caused a stir in Los Angeles, with officials seeking out professional alligator wranglers, and residents, unaccustomed to seeing gators in their lakes, showing up in droves in hopes of spotting it.
Reggie has eluded capture for months and is now thought to be in hibernation.
The men were out on bail pending their Feb. 15 arraignment, authorities said. It was unclear whether they had defense attorneys.
A message left at a number listed for Natow was not returned; Brewer’s number was unlisted.