(JTA) — The 19-year-old man arrested in attacks on two northern New Jersey synagogues pleaded not guilty.
Anthony Graziano of Lodi, N.J., made his plea Wednesday in a Hackensack courtroom through his attorney. He is being held on $5 million bail after being arrested the previous day in connection with the Jan. 11 firebomb attack on a synagogue and residence in neighboring Rutherford and the Jan. 3 arson attack on a synagogue in Paramus,
The Bergen County prosecutor said Tuesday that Graziano hates Jews.
"We have no doubt that the arson and the attempted murder in Rutherford were directly the result of Mr. Graziano’s hatred for people of the Jewish faith,” John Molinelli said at a news conference in Paramus. “We believe that he did this because they were synagogues and specifically to intimidate and cause alarm or concern to people of the Jewish community.”
Graziano was charged with nine counts of first-degree attempted murder in the Rutherford attack, as well as one count each of bias intimidation and aggravated arson. Rabbi Nosson Schuman of Congregation Beth El, who lives with his family in the synagogue residence, was injured in the attack.
In the Paramus attack on Congregation K’Hal Adath Jeshurun, Graziano was charged with aggravated arson and bias intimidation, as well as third-degree arson.
Meanwhile, several synagogues in Bergen County, a suburb of New York with a large and active Jewish population, received anti-Semitic letters with a New York City return address. Several of the synagogues that received the letter have been targets in recent weeks of anti-Semitic graffiti.