Saturday, September 05, 2015

NJ Man Gets 15 Months For Engaging In Bias Intimidation Against Neighbors; Defendant Carved Swastika On Victims' Front Lawn, Yelled Anti-Semitic/Anti-Gay Slurs At Them; Wrote Letters Including Racial Slurs To Investigating Detective

In Toms River, New Jersey, reports:
  • A Lakewood man was sentenced to 15 months in prison [] for carving a swastika into his neighbors' lawn.

    Scott F. Cooney's sentence was three months longer than his attorney had requested because Superior Court Judge James Blaney found Cooney continued to harass the victims even after he was ordered to have no contact with them, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

    Cooney was arrested Aug. 13, 2014, was charged with bias intimidation three days after his neighbors watched him carve a swastika into their front lawn in a Lakewood housing development, Della Fave said.

    Della Fave said Cooney, who lived in his parents' home in that development, had harassed the neighbors for several months before the swastika-carving incident by yelling disparaging and threatening remarks that included anti-Semitic and anti-gay slurs.

    Cooney pleaded guilty June 22 and was in jail awaiting sentencing when he wrote threatening and disparaging letters to the victims, who are men, and letters including racial slurs to Lakewood detective Sgt. Leroy Marshall, who investigated the case, Della Fave said.

    In rejecting the defense attorney's request for a year-long sentence, Blaney noted that those letters clearly violated his order that Cooney have no contact with the victims, Della Fave said.

    Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Heidi Tannenbaum-Newman argued for a term longer than one year, Della Fave said.

    At the sentencing, Blaney again ordered Cooney to have no contact with the victims and noted that he will ask the state Department of Corrections to review Cooney's outgoing mail to ensure against contact.

    The victims told authorities they saw Cooney on Aug. 10 in their front yard using what appeared to be a lead pipe to carve something into their lawn. Avoiding a confrontation, the victims stayed inside until he left, Della Fave said. He said they took a photograph of the swastika and called police.

    Marshall and Lakewood police Sgt. Greg Staffordsmith arrested Cooney at his East Dorchester Drive home in the Leisure Village adult community.

    Cooney initially posted bail but was jailed again June 5 after threatening the victims, Della Fave said.

See also, Ocean County Prosecutor's Office news release: Sentencing In Lakewood Lawn Swastika Carving.

Go here for other posts on use of bias intimidation to interfere with the housing rights of others.

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