Found Guilty of Anti-semitism in Seeking to Bar Sale of House to Jews

The attorney for a New Jersey businessman found guilty of anti-Semitic bias in the first case of its kind in the state plans to appeal the decision. John C. McDonough of Essex Fells was found guilty by the State Division on Civil Rights of violating the state’s law against discrimination after a hearing on charges that he had used anti-Semitic pressures to prevent sale of a house next door to his to a Jewish family. The case was the first in which a person not directly involved in the sale of a house was so charged in New Jersey. The ruling, issued by George Pfaus, the division director, on Aug. 18, ordered the defendant to “cease and desist” from conduct “amounting to such unlawful discrimination.” Mr. McDonough was accused by a Newark attorney, Myron S. Lehman, of acting to prevent sale to the Lehman family of a house owned by Christian Heidt.

Mr. McDonough said at the hearing that he did not know the meaning of anti-Semitism and that two key executives in his business, several of his buyers and”many of my friends” were Jewish. He admitted telephoning Mrs. Heidt but only to ask whether the Lehmans had young children. Myron Levin, housing supervisor for the division, said no effort had been made to fine Mr. McDonough because a case was still pending to determine whether the division had that power. Thomas Durkin, Mr. McDonough’s attorney, said he would appeal on grounds that the Civil Rights Division has no enforcement powers. He said he also was critical of the handling of the case by Mr. Pfaus, who has since resigned to take a Federal Government post.

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