A Bedford-Stuyvesant man and former city intern faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on hate crime-charges for allegedly vandalizing a Prospect Heights synagogue and setting fires at two Williamsburg Jewish sites earlier this month.
Prosecutors slapped the 26-year-old with charges including second-degree arson and third-degree burglary as hate crimes as part of a 30-count indictment they announced on Nov. 28.
“These alleged bias-motivated crimes are disheartening and undermine the values that we hold dear in our community,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “In Brooklyn, people of all faiths, cultures, ethnicities, and races should feel safe.”
On Nov. 1, the man allegedly tarnished a stairwell inside Union Temple on Eastern Parkway with anti-Semitic graffiti, scrawling statements including “Die Jew rats” and “End is now” in magic marker around 6 pm, Gonzalez said.
The incident occurred just hours before a planned 8 pm event there hosted by “Broad City” actress Ilana Glazer, who ended up canceling the program last minute out of fear she would put her audience in harm’s way if she went on with the show.
And the next day, the man allegedly lit fire to a coat room inside a Hewes Street yeshiva near Kent Avenue at 2:39 am. Security footage showed him lingering at the scene for about a minute, before smoke began billowing out of the closet, according to Gonzalez.
Police cuffed the man later that day after a witness reported him lighting more fires outside Rachmistivka Congregation on Bedford Avenue between Ross and Rodney Streets, but the district attorney’s spokeswoman Helen Peterson couldn’t immediately say if he was also charged in that incident.
The defendant previously interned and volunteered for former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who reportedly inspired him to pursue a college education at Brandeis University, according to a 2017 New York Times profile of him, which noted his childhood spent shuffling between foster homes.
But after enrolling at the Massachusetts college, the man’s habit of smoking pot led school administrators to place him on a mandatory leave of absence to attend rehab, after which they rejected his application to return to the school, the Times reported.
The man is due to return to court on Feb. 6, according to Gonzalez.