New judge to preside over Indian American terror suspect Aakash Dalal

Dalal is accused of plotting to firebomb several Jewish facilities, threatening to kill judges.

AB Wire

Aakash-DalalNEW YORK: The incarcerated Indian American man, Aakash Dalal, 23, who is accused of plotting to firebomb several Jewish facilities and threaten the lives of judges and prosecutors in Bergen County, New Jersey, has got a new judge to preside over his controversial trial.

The state’s top jurist tapped last week a veteran judge in Hudson County to preside over the trial of Dalal, who his supporters say is innocent.

Effective immediately, Superior Court Judge Joseph V. Isabella will be assigned to the criminal division in Bergen County to conduct the trial of Dalal, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said. Isabella also will continue to fulfill his duties in Hudson County, reported NorthJersey.com.

Following a state Supreme Court ruling last month, Bergen County Assignment Judge Bonnie Mizdol decided on July 10 to have an outside judge preside over the case in Hackensack rather than move Dalal’s trial to another county.

Mizdol said there was no reason that a fair and impartial jury could not be empaneled in Bergen County.

After his arrest in early 2012 on charges of conspiring to attack several Jewish facilities in Bergen County, Dalal was accused of threatening to kill two Superior Court judges in Hackensack, one of whom has since been transferred to Passaic County. The other has retired, the website NorthJersey.com reported.

The threat allegations prompted Dalal’s attorney to seek a change of venue, contending that reasonable questions could be raised about the appearance of impartiality if any Bergen County judge presided over the case.

Dalal and a co-defendant, Anthony Graziano, 23, of Lodi, are being held at the Bergen County Jail. Prosecutors alleged that Dalal, of New Brunswick, used electronic messaging to plan the attacks and encourage Graziano to carry them out.

The attacks, including one in which Molotov cocktails were thrown into the home of a rabbi and his family in Rutherford, were mostly unsuccessful. But they left the local Jewish community on edge for weeks.

The Bergen Dispatch reported Dalal was indicted on 29 counts in connection with the fire bombings, arson and attempted murder of a rabbi and his family in Rutherford, in March, 2013. A second indictment charged him with conspiracy to murder an assistant prosecutor, conspiracy to possess a firearm and making terroristic threats.

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