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Man Accused of Firebombing Jewish Temples Pleads Not Guilty

Anthony Graziano, charged with setting fire to synagogues in Rutherford and Paramus, appeared in Superior Court in Hackensack.

A Lodi man accused of firebombing synagogues in Rutherford and Paramus pleaded not guilty in Superior Court in Hackensack Wednesday morning. 

Shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, 19-year-old Anthony Graziano remained silent throughout the arraignment hearing and did not show emotion as the charges were read.

His attorney, Robert Kalisch, entered a not guilty plea on Graziano's behalf. After the hearing, Kalisch, a public defender, suggested Graziano's trial could be moved to a different venue, due to excessive publicity of the case in Bergen County.

"I don't know where that venue could be even in the state of New Jersey, because of the publicity this case has gotten," Kalisch said.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said his office would oppose a change in venue. Many cases receive substantial press coverage, he said.

"We generally prefer to have criminal matters tried in the county where victims are located, and certainly in this case, where the community is located," Molinelli said.

The case will proceed to the grand jury next month.

Both Kalisch and Molinelli expect it will be at least a year before the case goes to trial.

Graziano is being held on $5 million bail. Kalisch said whomever is assigned to defend Graziano will likely seek a substantial bail reduction.

"It's a lot more money than most murders in this county," he said. "It's a little high."

Graziano, who graduated from Hasbrouck Heights High School in 2010 before moving to Lodi to live with his mother and siblings, was charged with nine counts of attempted murder and one count each of bias intimidation and aggravated arson in connection with the Rutherford incident at Beth El Temple on Jan. 11. 

A bottle of Crush soda led investigators to Graziano, authorities said this week. After allegedly  through the bedroom window of Rabbi Neil Schuhman and his wife, Graziano, left a number of the bottles behind, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said at a press conference Tuesday.

Prosecutors also believe Graziano was responsible for an arson committed in Paramus on Jan. 3. Graziano allegedly  containing gasoline at the rear wall of Congregation K'Hal Adath Jeshurun, but the resulting fire burned out quickly, authorities said.

Graziano was additionally charged with aggravated arson, arson and bias intimidation in the Paramus fire.

Authorities said Graziano could face between 40 and 80 years of parole ineligibility.

zizi January 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM
It is amazing that there is no mention of the religion of this person....... I guess it does not matter..... in this case.....
Karin Kiesow-Irvine January 26, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Why would his religion, if he had any, be a factor in this?
Karin Kiesow-Irvine January 26, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Is there "some" point you are trying to get to zizi? If so come out and say it!

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