(August 12, 2020 / JNS) A man from Ocean County, N.J., pled guilty on Monday to bias intimidation after threatening to assault Jews with a baseball bat.
In direct messages sent through Facebook in late March, Anthony Lodespoto, 43, planned to travel from his home to the nearby town of Lakewood, N.J., home to a large population of Orthodox Jewish residents, with the express purpose of assaulting Jews. He repeated the threats in a Facebook post on page belonging to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
The threats came less than four months after the deadly attacks on Jews in Jersey City, N.J., and in Monsey, N.Y., in December 2019, and during a time of significant uptick in anti-Semitic activity online.
“Threatening assault with a weapon, especially when the Jewish community is still reeling from the Jersey City and Monsey attacks, is beyond the pale,” said Etzion Neuer, interim regional director of the Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey. “This underscores the need to keep a watchful eye on the charged environment in Ocean County that resulted in 54 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, according to the ADL’s latest audit.”
He added that “we are thankful to New Jersey law-enforcement agencies for sending the message that these kinds of threats will not go without consequence.”
Lodespoto remains in jail pending a Sept. 25 sentencing.
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