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Fake veterinarian in New York City sentenced to probation

A fake veterinarian who was arrested with the help of kitten named Fred was sentenced to probation and mandatory psychiatric treatment.

Steven Vassall, 29, learned his sentence Tuesday in State Supreme Court after pleading guilty to scheming to defraud and to unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine.

His case drew worldwide attention for the role played by Fred the tabby cat, a rescued stray.

An investigator posing as Fred's owner had summoned Vassall to an apartment rigged with a hidden camera early last year and pretended the kitten needed to be neutered. Vassal told him he could do it for $135, then was arrested as he left carrying Fred in a box with the cash.

Vassall was accused of performing medical procedures on at least 14 animals, according to his July indictment. Under his plea bargain, he must attend an outpatient mental health program and refrain from involvement in nursing or animal care.

Fred got a tiny badge on his collar, a Law Enforcement Appreciation Award and was honored at an adopt-a-thon benefit hosted by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters.

Officials had planned to use him in a classroom program about animal care, but the 15-month-old tabby died in August after wandering from his caretaker's home and into traffic, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.

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