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Attorneys for Bergen synagogue firebomb suspects want case moved out of Bergen

Photo Credit: Bergen Prosecutor) INSET: Dalal with Ron Paul
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: Bergen Prosecutor) INSET: Dalal with Ron Paul
Photo Credit: Bergen Prosecutor) INSET: Dalal with Ron Paul

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Lawyers for two men accused in a string of Bergen County synagogue arsons will get their chances on Sept. 27 to request that either the charges be dismissed or the case moved to another county, following a court hearing today in Hackensack.

First Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor John Higgins said he will present the state’s case against Aakash Dalal and Anthony Graziano beginning July 31.

This surprised Dalal’s attorney Brian Neary, who called it inappropriate that a grand jury in Hackensack get the case when his request for a change of venue hadn’t yet been decided.

“I understand it now has a date, miraculously, by the end of summer,” he said.

Anthony Marco Graziano (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia)

“I filed the motion Nov. 14. [Dalal’s] still in jail. The motion has been ‘hanging fire’ for eight or nine months,” said  Neary, who also has appealed Dalal’s $4 million bail to the state Appellate Division. “I question whether the case should be presented to a Bergen County grand jury.”

Nearly also said he will most likely file a motion to have his client and Graziano tried separately.

PHOTO ABOVE (from left:) attorney Brian Neary, Aakash Dalal, public defender Ian Silvera,Anthony Graziano (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

As CLIFFVIEW PILOT reported exclusively last month, Higgins said the two alleged conspirators zeroed in on a wooden “gog” — their slang for synagogue — in Rutherford because it would be easier to burn.

  • EXCLUSIVE: Two men accused in the firebombing of a Rutherford synagogue chose their target for a simple reason, a Bergen County prosecutor said this past week: It was made of wood. READ MORE….

Once they found Congregation Beth El on Montross Avenue, they remained in contact “right up until the time [Graziano] threw the Molotov cocktail through the window of the master bedroom of [Rabbi Rosson Schuman] and his wife, landing at the foot of the bed, setting the room on fire,” Higgins said.

Incendiary devices were also placed on the roof of the synagogue, which sustained the most damage of the targets. Schuman beat back the flames and got his family out before anyone could be seriously injured, authorities said.

Defense attorney Brian Neary said his client “has [pleaded] not guilty with regard to the arson. He is not the person who threw the Molotov cocktail.”

He also insisted that Dala wasn’t part of what authorities said was a conspiracy to kill Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney.

Neary has been trying to convince the courts to move the trial to another county, citing adverse publicity and what he said might be prejudice by Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli’s office because of the murder conspiracy charge.

He noted that Molinelli attended grand jury hearings that led to a March 1 indictment — a move the defense attorney said apparently was “playing to public sentiment.”

Higgins said that once Dalal was arrested, he admitted his association with Graziano and later said that Delaney was “the first person he was going to kill” once he got out of jail.

Dalal had arranged to post $1 million bail when the alleged murder plot was discovered, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told CLIFFVIEW PILOT last June.

The only reason Dalal nearly tasted freedom in the first place was because he convinced a state appeals court to drop his original bail from $2.5 million after a previous attorney argued that it was excessive.

After the murder conspiracy charges were brought, Dalal’s bail was hiked to $4 million, where it has remained.

Neary said the purported murder plot was the concoction of a jailhouse snitch who wore a wire and “badgered, led and coerced” Dalal into making statements implicating him in an act that he essentially had no intention of committing.

The firebombings stretched over a month, from Dec. 11, 2001 to Jan. 11 of last year.

They included the one in Rutherford, another at Temple K’Hal Adath Jeshrun of Paramus, and an attempted arson at the Jewish Community Center of Paramus.

The indictment also cites bias intimidation offenses at Temple Beth Israel in Maywood and at Temple Beth El Hackensack.

Graziano was arrested in January 2012 following an intense manhunt after surveillance footage released to the public showed him leaving the Route 46 Wal-Mart in Saddle Brook with a bag of items that included hair spray cans, duct tape and Orange Crush – to be used as bombs, Molinelli said at the time.

The Orange Crush bottles are believed connected to “Left 4 Dead,” an X-Box game that two Florida honor students cited as their inspiration for throwing more than a dozen Molotov cocktails at cars and a house in Florida four years ago, he said.

Although people commonly know of Molotov cocktails as bottles filled with gas and ignited by a kerosene-soaked wick stuffed into the mouth, some devices instead involve a chemical or gel and gasoline mix that ignites when the container breaks.

Authorities first believed that Graziano was a “loner,” as the prosecutor put it.

But a check of his computer turned up correspondence with Dalal, a childhood friend.

CLIFFVIEW PILOT received information pointing to Dalal early in the investigation and immediately notified Molinelli.

However, the prosecutor said his detectives independently got onto Dalal’s trail based on a biased posting of his on a Jewish online site after the firebombings.

Molinelli said Graziano used a bicycle to get to and from the attacks. Graziano, of Lodi, is charged with various offenses in the 30-count indictment returned by the grand jury three months ago.

Dalal, who used to live in Lodi, is charged with nearly all of the same offenses, in addition to the charge involving Delaney.

Both men are the first defendants in New Jersey charged with terrorism under a state law enacted in 2002, months after 9/11.

Dalal is also charged separately in Middlesex County with conspiring to torch an ROTC facility.

Neither has to be convicted of all the counts in Bergen to be sent to prison for life.

RELATED STORIES: See below
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

RELATED STORIES:

Bergen judge refuses to lower $4 million bail for synagogue firebomb defendant

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack today refused to reduce the $4 million bail for one of two suspects charged with a series of firebombings, including one at a rabbi’s home and another at a Paramus synagogue. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Aakash Dalal (MUGSHOT: Bergen Prosecutor) INSET: Dalal with Ron Paul (EXCLUSIVE CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTO)

Second man charged in Bergen synagogue firebombing ‘egged on’ other

CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: The “loner” accused of firebombing a Rutherford rabbi’s home and igniting a small arson blaze outside a Paramus synagogue had a coach: 19-year-old Lodi High School graduate Aakash Dalal, authorities charged this afternoon. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Synagogue firebomb suspect charged in plot to kill assistant Bergen prosecutor

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Detectives have arrested and charged a 20-year-old man accused in a rash of synagogue firebombings earlier this year with planning to kill a prosecutor handling the case against him and the man charged with carrying out the attacks. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

More firebombings of synagogues may have been planned

CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: Store-bought materials similar to those used in both the firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home and an attempted arson at a Paramus synagogue were found outside another temple in Bergen County this week, raising the possibility that at least one other attack was planned, CLIFFVIEW PILO T has learned. READ MORE… .

* * * * * *

Third synagogue firebombing plot brings more charges

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli confirmed this morning that the 19-year-old man accused of firebombing a Rutherford rabbi’s home and igniting a small arson blaze outside a Paramus synagogue has been charged with a plot to torch a third target — in an incident first disclosed on CLIFFVIEW PILOT. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Prosecutor: Manhunt in synagogue attacks leads to lone teen with bike, backpack, bombs

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAD IT FIRST: Investigators have charged a 19-year-old loner eclipsed by the shadow of his military serviceman brother in connection with the Jan. 11 firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home and a Jan. 3 arson at a Paramus synagogue. Bail for Anthony Marco Graziano of Lodi is $5 million. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Rutherford rabbi turns firebomb into seeds of love
Saturday, 21 January 2012 19:10 Richard E. Schultz

AN OFFICER WRITES : The coward who firebombed the home of Rabbi Rosson Schuman and his family failed to produce the terror, silence or cries for vengeance that such incendiary devices are meant for. No. The hateful act offered the Rutherford rabbi an opportunity to deliver a message that is as important now as ever. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Dogs search for accelerants around synagogues in wake of firebomb arrest

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAD IT FIRST: Specially trained K9 units headed up by the Bergen County Police Department on Wednesday began conducting sweeps of synagogues for accelerants within a 10-mile radius of the home of a Lodi man charged with firebombing a Rutherford rabbi’s home and starting an arson fire outside a temple. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Lodi man charged with attempted murder, held on $5 million bail, in Rutherford firebombing

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Investigators have charged a 19-year-old loner eclipsed by the shadow of his military serviceman brother in connection with the Jan. 11 firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home and a Jan. 3 arson at a Paramus synagogue. Bail for Anthony Marco Graziano of Lodi is $5 million. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Authorities confirm arrest in firebombing of Rutherford rabbi’s home

CLIFFVIEW PILOT SCOOP: A massive search of a Lodi home last night led to the arrest of a suspect in the firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . One of the pieces of evidence: Orange Crush soda. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Man wanted for questioning in Rutherford firebombing

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli on Friday authorized the release of what were investigatory images obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT of a man buying hair spray, bottles, duct tape and other materials at the Wal-Mart on Route 46 in Saddle Brook that were used in the pre-dawn firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home. There’s a reward for anyone who can lead authorities to him. READ MORE….

* * * * * *


Bias attacks prompt unprecedented Bergen County 24-hour joint patrols

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County’s top public safety leaders each told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that unprecedented 24-hour patrols of Bergen County’s religious and ethnic community facilities will continue for the indefinite future, amid a manhunt for whoever is responsible for throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of a Rutherford rabbi’s bedroom. READ MORE….

* * * * * *

Arsonists targeted Rutherford rabbi with Molotov cocktails, authorities believe

EXCLUSIVE REPORT : The FBI has entered an investigation into a pair of what are now believed to be related attacks on Jewish temples in Bergen County, the most serious occurring early this morning when one of four or five Molotov cocktails crashed through the bedroom window of a rabbi who lives upstairs from his Rutherford synagogue with his wife and five children, CLIFFVIEW PILO T has learned. READ MORE….

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