Exclusive: Police find 5-foot alligator living in Montgomery Village home; owner charged
MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. (ABC7) —
Animal controls officers in Montgomery County readily admit they were taken aback by the sight of an American alligator floating in a bathtub inside a Montgomery Village residence.
An anonymous tip led officers to the single-family home along the 8300 block of Marketree Circle. Homeowner David Greene's teenage son answered the door and allowed police inside. He directed officers to the basement bathroom where they found the approximately five-foot, 35 pound, female gator, named Blackbeard, lounging in the tub.
Officers used a Ketch-All pole to remove Blackbeard, placed black tape around its snout, and transported the reptile to the Animal Services Division in Derwood. There it was placed in a private room with a kiddy pool full of warm water.
Greene's teenage son explained that his father purchased Blackbeard online from a person in Florida around 11 years ago. Unlike alligators at zoos, which are kept in enclosed exhibits, Blackbeard was allowed to freely roam around the Greene house like a pet dog or cat. The basement bathroom, however, served as its "den-like space."
“Oh, that’s a pretty big alligator," neighbor Manuel Flores said upon seeing a photo of Blackbeard for the first time. “I think that’s a wild animal, it should be in the wild environment.”
Flores, who has multiple Malteses, couldn't help, but wonder if Greene ever allowed Blackbeard outside of the house. Greene's backyard contains a small, landscaped pond, and is surrounded by a tall, wooden fence.
"He told me his wife was allergic to cat and dog hair, which is why he got the alligator," said a different male neighbor who did not care to share his name.
Greene was not particularly bashful about his affinity for alligators. In fact, he was featured in a March 2017, article by AdAge entitled, "The secret lives of industry influencers: how your colleagues spend their off-hours."
Greene, who is the executive vice president of project management and operations for a global digital marketing agency, stated he fell in love with alligators as a young man. In fact, it was on a trip to Florida that he watched Seminole tribe members wrestle the large reptiles on a reservation. Greene found himself mesmerized.
During the 1990s, Greene purchased an alligator, and hid it in the basement from his mother who worked for the Clinton administration at the time. The secret did not last for long.
"Later, in a meeting with the president, Mr. Greene's mother had to share a quirky fact, so she mentioned her son's alligator. That led to an introduction to the first lady. Ultimately, David's mother became Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff," the AdAge article reads.
"Apparently, having a gator pays off," Greene is quoted in the article as saying.
Yet, authorities did not find humor in the situation. They have charged Greene with "possession of a live alligator." The citation carries a maximum fine of $1,000, but no jail time.
According to defense attorney Ahmet Hisim, Greene obtained Blackbeard before Maryland changed its laws about exotic pet ownership. Hisim further explained his client willingly cooperated with authorities, but is devastated by the loss.
"This was like his cat or dog," Hisim remarked by telephone. "He loved this thing."
After reading about the story on Twitter, many people expressed sympathy and frustration for Greene.
"Why did they take it away? That’s so sad!! You can see he loves it."
"Was Blackbeard bothering anybody? No! So leave him alone!"
"Looked like him and Ms. Blackbeard were best friends and they just ripped his heart out."
Blackbeard was taken to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve in Frederick County, which has more than 600 animals, including big cats, bears, llamas and monkeys. The 50-acre park is open to the public year-round, and serves as a refuge for exotic pets, like Blackbeard.