NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Two New Jersey men were formally charged Friday in a series of firebomb attacks on synagogues across northern New Jersey.
A grand jury in Hackensack handed up a 30-count indictment against Aakash Dalal of New Brunswick and Anthony M. Graziano of Lodi, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
Graziano faces nine counts of attempted murder stemming from the firebombing of a rabbi's residence in Rutherford on Jan. 11, 2012. Police said Molotov cocktails were thrown at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, igniting a fire in the second-floor bedroom of the rabbi's residence where he, his wife, five children and his parents were sleeping at the time and escaped serious injury.
Both Graziano and Dalal are charged with bias intimidation, conspiracy to commit arson upon a synagogue and aggravated arson. They also face charges related to terrorism, possession of destructive devices and hindering apprehension.
The two were both 19 at the time, and are childhood friends from Lodi. They are facing up to life in prison if convicted on all charges.
Brian Neary, an attorney representing Dalal, said his client will plead not guilty.
"He's a college student, not a mastermind," Neary said.
An attorney representing Graziano couldn't be reached for comment.
Graziano is being held on $2.5 million bail. Dalal is in custody on $5.5 million bail.
No injuries were reported in the series of synagogue attacks, but they kept Jewish residents of the ethnically and religiously diverse communities of Bergen County, part of the New York metropolitan area, on edge for weeks until arrests were made.