Wednesday, October 26, 2011
New Square man accused in murder try arrested on charge of violating court order
The 18-year-old New Square man charged with trying to murder a village dissident through an arson attempt was released this afternoon after being arrested on a charge of violating a court order to stay away from the family.
Ramapo police arrested Shaul Spitzer this morning after he left the Rockland County Courthouse in New City following an appearance on felony charges of attempted murder, arson and assault.
Police accused Spitzer of walking outside Aron Rottenberg's Truman Avenue house on Oct. 4 at 3:15 p.m. in violation of a court order to stay away from family members, their home and business, Ramapo police Detective Sgt. John Lynch said today.
Spitzer, who lived in Grand Rabbi David Twersky's house and worked as his butler, appeared before Ramapo Justice Rhoda Schoenberger this afternoon on a misdemeanor count of second-degree criminal contempt.
The Rockland District Attorney's Office recommended no additional bail, believing the $300,000 on the felony charges was sufficient, Lynch told Schoenberger.
Schoenberger noted she got the case because the New Square judge was unavailable. She released Spitzer, who is scheduled to appear in New Square Justice Court on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.
Defense attorney Kenneth Gribetz, said after court that Spitzer would plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charge at that time.
A community member took a photograph of Spitzer and some friends in front of the Rottenberg house. The individual sent the photo to the Rottenbergs, who sent the photo to the police. The police investigated and after finding the community member and doing interviews, they made the arrest.
Gribetz said Spitzer made an "innocent mistake" and has been told in no uncertain terms he's not to go near the Rottenberg house. Gribetz said the synagogue and the grand rabbi's house are near the Rottenberg home.
Rottenberg's son-in-law, Moshe Eilbaum, said the family was pleased the police took action.
Spitzer has pleaded not guilty to charges of arson and attempted murder that accuse him of trying to set Rottenberg's house in New Square on fire at 4:15 a.m. May 22. That case was adjourned today until Jan. 11 for possible trial.
During a confrontation outside the house that May morning, police contend, an incendiary device of Spitzer's exploded, burning Rottenberg over 50 percent of his body.
Rottenberg was hospitalized for months with third-degree burns, undergoing skin grafts and other medical procedures. Spitzer suffered severe burns to his hands and arms.
Rottenberg and others had been the target of street protests and vandalism last year for not praying in Twersky's synagogue. Rottenberg led a contingent that prayed at the Friedwald Center on New Hempstead Road, less than a mile from New Square.
At the time of the arson attack, Spitzer lived in the grand rabbi's house and did butler-type work for the Hasidic Jewish leader. The rabbi later condemned the violence.
There also are accusations being investigated that young men like Spitzer enforce the edicts of the grand rabbi and his inner circle, including social rules, like dress codes, and worship practices. The Ramapo police have been investigating the vandalism against Rottenberg and any conspiracy to deny him and others their rights to practice their religion. The FBI has been monitoring the case.