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Lawyer accused of threatening two judges ordered held on $3 million bail in Bergen County Jail

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: An Essex County lawyer who authorities said made threats against two New Jersey judges was ordered held on $3 million bail during a court hearing today in Hackensack.

“That is not acceptable to me, your honor,” 66-year-old Michael L. Brendzel of Millburn told Presiding Superior Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi, insisting that an arrest warrant obtained by the state Attorney General “has many fallacious statements.”

“The bail amount should be based on many, many circumstances,” he said.

Brendzel also insisted on representing himself. The judge temporarily rejected the request and advised him not to say anything else without a lawyer present.

“As the judge, I have to tell you anything you say can be used against you,” DeAvila-Silebi warned, while refusing to discuss any particulars of the case against him.

“You have the right to remain silent, and any statements made in court are part of the public record,” the judge added. “Even though you may make them with an innocent intent, they can still be used against you.”

“All of this arose from the lack of justice,” Brendzel protested, but the judge cut him off.

He continued: “You have many other matters that have been transferred from Essex County to your honor, and I am taking an appeal.”

Given the allegations, the case was transferred from Essex to Bergen County.

DeAvila-Silebi entered a not-guilty plea for Brendzel and maintained prior bail conditions — including no phone, mail or other contact with any of his victims and no possession of firearms throughout the case.

The high bail was justified, she said, given the nature of the alleged crimes, what she said are Brendzel’s substantial assets and the fact he was told to surrender to face complaints against him and instead fled to New York, where he was arrested.

“The case will now proceed to the grand jury,” the judge told Brendzel, “and if you are indicted there will be an arraignment.”

Authorities said Brendzel had threatened Essex County Superior Court Judge Marilyn E. Williams early last month, then called the Newark chambers of Superior Court Assignment Judge Patricia Costello from Rikers Island three weeks ago after he was taken into custody and said that he was “going to take care of [her].”

The call “put her in imminent fear of death,” DeAvila-Silebi said.

State authorities in this case have charged Brendzel with four counts of making terroristic threats, one count of harassment, and one count of contempt of court for violating a court order.

As for the original charges, Brendzel is accused in Essex County of:

. Criminal trespass
. Stalking
. Burglary
. Threats of violence
. Calling 911 without needing 911 services
. Aggravated assault and simple assault of law enforcement
. Resisting arrest through physical force or violence.

Michael L. Brendzel (STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

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