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Prosecutors don’t pursue stolen property charges in case involving dog

The U.S. attorney’s office and police say their investigation into a spate of robberies continues.

Abby Sevcik, who with boyfriend Rick Oleka owns Pablo, holds the puppy April 15 at a news conference with Assistant Police Chief Morgan C. Kane, left, after Pablo, who had been taken April 13 at gunpoint, was recovered. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Federal prosecutors said Saturday that they did not pursue criminal charges filed by D.C. police against four men who were arrested at a residence where authorities found Pablo, a puppy that had been taken from his owner at gunpoint.

As a result, the men, ranging in age from 18 to 31, were released from detention on Friday, the same day police held a news conference saying they had raided an apartment Thursday night in Northeast Washington and found the dog, firearms and drugs.

The status of charges against three juveniles, males ages 14, 15 and 17 who were also arrested at the apartment, could not be determined. The D.C. Office of the Attorney General, which prosecutes juvenile offenders, did not respond to a request for comment.

Police had charged the people found in the apartment in the 1200 block of 18th Place NE with possession of stolen property — the dog — and said their investigation continued into a series of armed robberies and a shooting that occurred within one hour on Wednesday afternoon in Northwest and Northeast Washington.

D.C. police arrest seven people found with dog taken in armed robbery

Two dogs were taken in two of the gunpoint robberies — Pablo, an 11-week-old Australian shepherd in Shaw, and Bruno, a 1-year-old French bulldog in Brightwood Park. Bruno was not at the apartment where police found Pablo and remains missing.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the District, would not explain why the charges were dropped. “The investigation is continuing and we have no further comment at this time,” Miller said in a statement issued Saturday.

Prosecutors choose not to move forward on cases for a variety of reasons, including to seek more substantive evidence and to link specific acts to individuals. It is unlikely the men would have been detained even if the possession of stolen property charge was filed.

D.C. Assistant Police Chief Morgan C. Kane said Saturday that “our intention is to investigate further and have these charges reinstated. … We’re not closing it and moving on.”

On Friday, Kane said police found in the apartment at the northern edge of Carver-Langston more than 100 rounds of ammunition, a .45-caliber handgun, and an assault weapon resembling an AK-47.

Kane said police are gathering evidence to link the firearms, the drugs and the robberies to specific people. There also may be additional people sought who were not at the apartment during the raid. Kane said police learned of the apartment after they found a silver Audi believed to have been used in all of Wednesday’s attacks. But they did not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone in the robberies or link them to the firearms found in the apartment.

“It’s very early in the investigation,” Kane said Friday.

Abby Sevcik, who with her boyfriend owns Pablo and joined police at Friday’s news conference, said Saturday that the couple are grateful to have their pet returned and didn’t want to discuss the investigation.

Efforts to reach the four men police had arrested were not successful on Saturday. People at the apartment where police said Pablo had been held for about 30 hours declined to answer questions and did not open their door to a visiting reporter.