(JTA) – A 24-year-old New Jersey man was found guilty of terrorism for vandalizing Jewish temples and firebombing a rabbi’s residence four years ago.
A jury cleared Anthony Graziano of Lodi, New Jersey of several attempted murder charges and one count of aggravated arson but convicted him of terrorism – the most serious offense – and 19 other charges connected with Graziano’s actions.
Graziano showed no emotion as the jury’s verdict was read Friday afternoon in state Superior Court in Hackensack, the news site NorthJersey.com reported. He faces 30 years to life in prison on the terrorism charge alone when he is sentenced on July 22.
During the trial, a rabbi who testified against Graziano said he feared for his and his family’s life after Graziano had tossed a Molotov cocktail through the rabbi’s bedroom window. Graziano’s mother broke down on the witness stand, saying she did not recognize him as the person she had raised.
It was the first case in Bergen County to employ a post-9/11 terrorism law that required the finding that five or more people were terrorized by the crime or that the acts were carried out to promote terror, according to NorthJersey.com.
Graziano’s lawyer, Ian Silvera, pledged an appeal.
“This was an arson case, not a terrorism case,” he said. “That has been my position from the very beginning and it is still my position today.”
Authorities say Graziano and a childhood friend, Akash Dalal, who will be tried separately, spray-painted anti-Semitic messages outside Temple Beth Israel in Maywood and Temple Beth El in Hackensack in December 2011. Then, on Jan. 3, 2012, the two tried to set Temple Khal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus on fire, authorities said.
Four days later, Graziano abandoned a plot to throw Molotov cocktails into the Jewish Community Center in Paramus, a synagogue, when a police car drove by, prompting him to leave behind Molotov cocktail equipment and a bicycle, authorities said.
The attacks culminated, prosecutors said, with the Jan. 11, 2012, firebombing of Rabbi Neil Schuman’s Rutherford residence – where he, his wife, their five children, his father and her mother were sleeping – in an attempt to burn down the adjacent Congregation Beth El.