HOWELL – A Howell man was charged with threatening the Jewish community in Lakewood for not complying with the statewide executive order not to hold parties or other social events.
Anthony Lodespoto, 43, of Howell was charged with 2nd degree Terroristic Threats for statements made through direct messages to individuals through Facebook. He had threatened to go to Lakewood to assault members of the Jewish community with a baseball bat. The New Jersey State Police informed local officers that he also sent a similar message to the Facebook account of Governor Phil Murphy.
Lodespoto was arrested at his Dutch Valley Road home without incident, police said.
“As Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Ocean County, it is my sworn duty to enforce the law and protect all of our residents,” Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer stated. “To that end, employing a public health crisis and worldwide pandemic as an excuse to propagate hate and fear is unconscionable. This behavior is contrary to law and will not be tolerated. 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. 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.”
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer would like to acknowledge the fine work of the Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and the New Jersey State Police for their collaborative efforts in this investigation.
Defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.