LOS ANGELES (Dec. 15)
— Suspicions that a recent synagogue fire in the Los Angeles area was motivated by anti-Semitism were confirmed by the arrest of two members of the American Nazi Party announced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office yesterday.
Detectives said that Michael Conole, 35, and Eugene Neilson, 24, were booked lost Friday on suspicion of having set the blaze that caused an estimated $130,000 in damage to Temple Beth David in the San Gabriel Valley during the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 6. Conole is being held in $100,000 bail, Sheriff’s deputies said.
The fire gutted the sanctuary of the Reform temple, destroying many of the Torahs. The County Arson Squad reported at the time that it was a clear case of arson. Suspicions of anti-Semitism were aroused because of previous incidents of vandalism against Jewish houses of worship in the area. During the Rosh Hashanah holidays, a swastika was burned on the lawn of Temple Beth Torah 2-1/2 miles away and anti-Semitic and racist pamphlets were found strewn in its parking lot.