An unholy terror who vandalized four synagogues and a Jewish community center in nine attacks — bashing windows and dousing religious books in hand sanitizer — was jailed Sunday after a Bronx Criminal Court judge found justification in the state’s controversial bail reform law.
Jordan Burnette, 29, was slammed with 42 charges, including burglary as a hate crime and criminal trespassing as a hate crime, after police busted him for bicycling the wrong way down a Bronx street Saturday night.
“I believe in Jesus... Jesus is the real messiah. That’s all I know. I didn’t throw any rocks,” Burnette told reporters after the arrest.
But on Sunday, Bronx Criminal Court Judge Louis Nock stopped Burnette’s arraignment to determine if bail could be set on charges deemed ineligible under the bail reform law.
“This is not a crime for which we can ask for bail, as the law exists and the Legislature oversees it,” argued Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb, before the case was called a second time. “The Legislature did not in fact include hate crimes under bail-eligible offenses.”
But Nock, at the second hearing Sunday, declared the law said if glass was broken in a burglary it could be considered a violent felony, making it an offense for which bail can be set.
“Given the gravity of the allegations, this court is inclined to set bail,” Nock declared, ordering Burnette held on $20,000 cash bail or $30,000 bond.
“None of these charges qualify... the top counts here are all non-violent offenses under the statute,” fumed defense lawyer Morgan Everhart. “(He) fully understands the severity of these charges and what is required of him in this case.... even though they are very serious.”
Burnette appeared virtually while two family members sat in the court room. They declined to comment afterward. He’s due back in court on Friday.
“We felt the attacks - the broken glass, the brazenness, the vandalism and the desecration of our holy books - personally,” said Rabbi Steven Exler of Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. “We have all been in each other’s synagogues and consider our Riverdale Jewish community to be an extended family in many ways.”
The vandalism spree was the latest in a surge of hate crimes across the city in recent months, including a rash of violence aimed at New Yorkers of Asian descent — and on Sunday, city leaders spoke at a rally in Flushing, Queens to decry the troubling trend, and call for harsher punishment for those who commit hate crimes.
“To anyone who commits a hate crime, let’s be blunt, let’s be clear: we will find you, we will prosecute you,” said Mayor de Blasio. “You will suffer the consequences.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who also spoke at the rally, said the Biden administration had already taken a more aggressive approach to cracking down on hate crimes.
“To those who perpetuate Asian hate, we now have people in the justice department dedicated to finding you, exposing you and prosecuting you,” Schumer said.
Burnette is due back in court Friday May 7th.