Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on Friday, March 27, 2020, Anthony Lodespoto, 43, of Howell, was charged with Making Terroristic Threats during a State of Emergency in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a.
On March 26, 2020, the Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau was 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, 2020, 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. Lodespoto was arrested without incident at his residence in Howell. He is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.
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.
“As Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Ocean County, it is my sworn duty to enforce the law and protect all of our residents,” Prosecutor 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 concluded.
The public and media are reminded that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt in a court of law.