LAKEWOOD – A Manchester man has admitted to committing a string of crimes and assaults against members of the Orthodox Jewish community, officials said.
Dion Marsh, 29, pled guilty to information charging him with five counts of violating the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and one count of carjacking. Marsh is charged with willfully causing bodily injury to five victims, and attempting to kill and cause injuries with dangerous weapons to four of them, because they were Jewish.
“This defendant violently attacked five men, driving a car into four of them, stabbing one of them in the chest, and attempting to kill them, simply because they were visibly identifiable as Orthodox Jews,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. “The threat from hate-fueled violence is a sad reality across our state and our nation. That hate is not who we are. We are stronger as a people because no matter what you look like, how you worship, where you come from, or who you love, your civil rights must be respected and protected. My office has no higher priority than protecting the civil rights of our New Jersey residents.”
These charges all stem from a series of events that occurred in Lakewood and Jackson on April 8, 2022.
Around 1:18 p.m. near Arlington Avenue and Lincoln Street in Lakewood, Marsh approached a driver in a 2011 Toyota Camry and attempted to enter it. The victim locked the doors as he watched Marsh approach the car.
As Marsh tried to open the door, the victim accelerated. Marsh reached through the open window and attempted to hold on while the victim continued to drive. They traveled about one city block before Marsh let go, police said.
At 5:20 p.m., a male pedestrian was crossing Kimball Road at Central Avenue in Lakewood when a dark colored sedan hit him from the right side, causing minor bodily injury. The car then quickly fled the scene, police said.
A 911 call was placed around 5:25 p.m. by a man reporting that his minor son had been approached by a black Honda Accord occupied by a skinny black male in the area of Carlton Avenue and Central Avenue in Lakewood. The caller told police that the suspect attempted to physically grab the minor and pull him into the car, but was unsuccessful.
Around 6:06 p.m., Marsh was in Lakewood driving a different car when he intentionally hit another Orthodox Jewish man with the car, attempting to kill the victim and causing him to suffer several broken bones, officials said.
About an hour later, Marsh was driving the car he had stolen earlier and attempted to kill another Orthodox Jewish man by deliberately hitting him with the car. Marsh then got out of the car and stabbed the man in the chest with a knife, causing the victim to suffer a stab wound and other injuries, officials said.
At 8:23 p.m., Marsh was still driving the stolen car when he hit another Orthodox Jewish man who was walking in nearby Jackson Township, attempting to kill the man and causing him to suffer several broken bones and internal injuries, officials said.
The four hate crimes violations charging Marsh with attempting to kill those victims each carry a statutory maximum term of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The hate crime violation charging Marsh with assaulting the other victim carries a statutory maximum term of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The carjacking charge carries a statutory maximum term of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Marsh is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11.
“We have said time and again as we investigate a significant rise in hate crimes, hating someone isn’t a crime, but hating someone and then attacking them based on that hate is a violation of federal law,” FBI – Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “Marsh admits he targeted five innocent people in 2022 because they were Orthodox Jews. Personal beliefs don’t give someone the right to attack and attempt to kill another human being because they may not ascribe to a similar religion or way of life.”
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Dennehy in Newark; officers of the Lakewood Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Gregory H. Meyer; officers of the Jackson Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Matthew Kunz; officers of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy; prosecutors and detectives of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, and officers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to the charges.