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35-yr jail for two for attacks on Jews
35-yr jail for two for attacks on Jews

BY A STAFF WRITER

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- Aakash Dalal and Anthony Graziano, the two Lodi men who terrorized the Jewish community in North Jersey with a string of arson attacks in 2011 and 2012, have been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The two were convicted last year of spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti at synagogues in Maywood and Hackensack, attempting to burn down synagogues in Paramus and Rutherford and throwing Molotov cocktails into the Rutherford home of a rabbi between December 2011 and January 2012.

Graziano was tried and found guilty of terrorism and 19 other counts in May. Dalal was also found guilty of terrorism and 16 other counts in November.

The two were sentenced together on July 28 because they worked as partners, said Brian Sinclair, an assistant Bergen County prosecutor.

The sentencing had to be moved to a larger courtroom in Hackensack to accommodate the overflow crowd of spectators, many of them from the Jewish community.

Pessy Schuman, the ex-wife of the rabbi who was targeted in the Rutherford firebombing, implored Superior Court Judge Joseph Isabella to hand down a sentence that would say, “Never again in America, never again anywhere.”

Pessy Schuman, Rabbi Neil Schuman, their five children and two other family members were asleep when glass soda bottles with bandanna wicks and flammable liquid were hurled into their home next to Congregation Beth El on January 11, 2012.

They awoke to flames that Schuman said she still sees in her nightmares.

Graziano apologized to the Jewish community at the sentencing and asked the judge for leniency.

His attorney, Ian Silvera, portrayed his client as a victim of brainwashing by Dalal, who, he said, was more sophisticated than Graziano and exerted control over his actions. Both men were 19 at the time of the attacks.

Dalal did not make a statement during the sentencing. Sinclair said his silence spoke volumes about a lack of contrition.

The prosecution believes the two men would have continued their hate-fuelled rampage had they not been caught.

Graziano and Dalal discussed plans to escalate their attacks, Sinclair said, with Dalal telling Graziano he would not trust him until he killed a Jew.

The sentences were the same for both men: 32 years for terrorism, and 18 months for each of two bias intimidation charges.

Paramus Rabbi Arthur Weiner said the month-long terrorism spree had a deep impact on the Jewish community and forced synagogues across the area to spend thousands of dollars on beefing up security.


He saw the sentencing as a sign that the county and the state did not accept hate crimes and prosecuted those who perpetrated them.

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Update: 04-August-2017

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