PATERSON – A Clifton man accused of throwing lit firecrackers outside a synagogue this spring has been admitted into a rehabilitation program for first-time offenders.
Rizek Musheisen, who was charged with bias intimidation, harassment and criminal mischief, made a brief appearance in state Superior Court in Paterson on Friday to formalize his entry into the pre-trial intervention program.
His lawyer, Harley Breite, said in an interview that Musheisen would be on probation for 18 months and must perform 20 hours of community service. After he completes the program, the fourth degree charges will be dismissed.
Officials at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office were unavailable for comment.
The New Jersey chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights group, condemned the April incident at Ahavas Israel Synagogue in Passaic as “hateful and despicable.”
Breite said that Musheisen is a college graduate and “anything but a racist.
“He was a young person who did a stupid thing, who has learned from his mistakes,” Breite said.
Police say Musheisen was riding in a 2012 black Nissan with tinted windows with three other men, from Passaic, Linden and Jersey City.
Musheisen got out of the car, tossed a bunch of lit firecrackers in front of Ahavas Israel and yelled “Allahu Akbar,” according to a witness. “Allahu Akbar” is an Arabic phrase that Muslims use that means “
God is great.” [Allah is greater…than your god]
Breite said his client did not use that phrase.
From the beginning, Musheisen has apologized for his actions, the lawyer said.
Judge Scott Bennion on Friday signed the pre-trial intervention agreement between prosecutors and Breite. If Musheisen fails to complete the program, the charges against him would proceed and he’d face up to 18 months in prison.
Leave some bacon near a mosque and you get 5-10.
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