Howell man receives 6-months for threatening to harm Jewish residents in Lakewood
The Howell man who threatened to drive down to Lakewood and harm Jewish residents with a baseball bat has been sentenced to nearly 6-months in jail as a as a condition of eighteen months non-custodial probation relative to his previously entered guilty plea to Bias Intimidation, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer announced on Friday.
Anthony Lodespoto, 43, pled guilty to the offense on August 10 and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on March 27.
The day prior, Lakewood Police Detective's were made aware that Lodespoto had made threatening statements by way of the direct messaging feature of Facebook against the Jewish community of Lakewood.
On March 27, Detectives were informed by members of the New Jersey State Police that Lodespoto sent a similar message to the Facebook account of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
The threats largely consisted of Lodespoto threatening to travel to Lakewood with the purpose of assaulting members of the Jewish community with a baseball bat.
"I am keenly aware these are extraordinarily stressful times, but that does not give anyone license to engage in violent behavior or threaten to commit violent acts," Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in a written statement on March 28. "The statements made by this individual were not an exercise in free speech; rather, they exhibited an abhorrence to the values of a free and civilized society."
Lodespoto's arrest also came as Murphy and State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan defended Lakewood against harassment and discrimination following several violations of groups in Lakewood violating the emergency order banning gatherings of any type.
This included a pair of weddings in Lakewood in March where a couple days after Governor Murphy extended public gathering restrictions to not allow more than 50 people in one place at one time, two groups of people rolled the dice and ignored that directive by having much more than that amount in terms of guests at the weddings and receptions.
The gatherings in Lakewood continued after the arrest of Lodespoto for nearly a month of time as well that included township police and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office breaking up such events as large gatherings, engagement parties, a funeral that had 70 people, and a toy store that had 50 people inside the location.
Previous reporting by Dan Alexander was also used in this report.
More From Townsquare Media Monmouth-Ocean: