A New York judge has released a man suspected of vandalizing synagogues across the Bronx – just hours after another judge defied the state’s bail reform laws and ordered him locked up.
Jordan Burnette, 29, faces 42 charges over a string of attacks on Jewish places of worship.
He appeared in court Sunday, and was expected to be freed because New York State’s bail reform laws say a suspect with his charges cannot be held on bail.
But Bronx Judge Louis Nock classified some of the charges as ‘hate crimes’ and ordered him held on a $20,000 bail.
However, the judge’s defiance didn’t last long.
Just hours later Burnette was called back to court where another justice – Judge Tara Collins – granted him supervised release, the New York Post reports.
It was not immediately clear why Burnette was called to see another judge, or why he was granted supervised release after Judge Nock’s original decision.
Jordan Burnette, 29, was arrested in connection with a rash of hate crimes in the Bronx
Judge Louis Nock (left) classified some of the charges as ‘hate crimes’ and ordered Burnette held on a $20,000 bail. But just hours later Burnette was called back to court where Judge Tara Collins (right) granted him supervised release
The doors and windows at several Riverdale synagogues were smashed in recent weeks and a vandal was caught on camera hurling stones at the Riverdale Jewish Center, pictured above
Police arrested him Saturday morning as he was riding a bike stolen from a synagogue
Burnette faces more than 40 charges, including a number of hate crime-related offenses after he allegedly smashed windows at various synagogues in the area.
Over the course of 11 days, Burnette allegedly destroyed the doors and windows of local synagogues and poured hand sanitizer over some prayer books. The windows of cars parked nearby were also smashed.
The carnage began when the suspect allegedly hurled large rocks at two Bronx synagogues, Chabad of Riverdale and Riverdale Jewish Center.
The following night it is alleged the same suspect returned to cause more damage at the same two Jewish houses of worship.
Jordan Burnette took part in a virtual arraignment having been charged Saturday with burglary as a hate crime
The NYPD released images, above left and right, of the person suspected of hurling large rocks at four synagogues in The Bronx last week
He is also said to have attacked the Conservative Synagogue and Young Israel of Riverdale, which are based in the Bronx too.
Significant damage was caused to all four synagogues as a result, an NYPD spokesman said at the time.
Burnette was arrested about 3am Saturday after being stopped by police for riding a bicycle against the flow of traffic, Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the Hate Crimes Task Force, said at a news conference.
Surveillance video from the area allegedly showed Burnette had thrown a rock through the windshield of a van and was in a synagogue parking lot where religious prayer books were found strewn on the ground.
Police said Burnette was riding a bicycle taken from a shed in the parking lot at the time he was stopped.
Clear surveillance footage then captured Burnette walking away from the area
Police say surveillance, stakeouts and patrol all helped lead to the arrest
Prosecutors at Burnette’s initial arraignment at Bronx Criminal Court pointed out that such crimes were not on the list that would be eligible for bail – essentially asserting that the ‘shattering of glass’ was a violent felony.
‘Given the number of attacks, we probably would have asked for substantial bail before January of 2020,’ Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb told Judge Louis Nock during the virtual hearing.
‘The legislature did not include hate crimes in its revision of bail reform and under the law as it exists today, this is not eligible,’ she added. ‘We will not violate the law.’
But Judge Nock set Burnette’s bail at $30,000 for a partially secured bond or $20,000 cash.
‘I’ve taken a very close look at the law,’ Nock explained. ‘Given the gravity and the number of charges he’s facing, this court is inclined to set bail.’
Burnette’s attorney attempted to keep him from being placed behind bars.
‘Your honor, according to the bail law, none of the charges in this case apply,’ Morgan Everhart protested. ‘These are all nonviolent charges.’
‘I appreciate your effort. I hope I am correct,’ Judge Nock replied.
Burnette’s attorney attempted to keep him from being placed behind bars but failed
NEW YORK’S BAIL REFORMS: THE FACTS
On January 1 2020, New York State introduced sweeping criminal justice legislation, meaning that cash bail is no longer permitted for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, including robbery.
Judges are now required to release individuals charged with such crimes with no cash bail.
The controversial new New York ‘no-bail law’ is expected to curtail the use of cash bail and pretrial detention in an estimated 90 per cent of arrests and strengthen measures intended to ensure a defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
New York’s decision to reform its law saw the state join ranks with California and New Jersey – which already prohibit cash bails for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
The ‘no-bail’ law has been mired in controversy since it was enshrined into state legislation.
Judge Nock also barred the media from speaking with Burnette upon his release.
‘I am objecting to any press being here at this time. I object to any photographs being taken of the defendant,’ his lawyer, Everhart, told the judge.
‘I am not able to be in the courthouse with him. I ask that you not allow the press to question him without counsel present.’
If attacks that occur do not injure others, they are supposed to be exempt from bail under New York state’s bail reform law that was enacted last year.
Those offenses can cover a whole range of incidents including misdemeanors and some felonies.
‘He is being charged with burglary as a hate crime and also faces numerous charges relating to the many acts of vandalism as hate crimes that have taken place in this community,’ said NYPD Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, of the Hate Crimes Task Force during a Saturday press conference.
‘This has been going on for a few days. This was a department-wide effort,’ said John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
‘Hopefully life will resume back to normal and people will be able to worship without fear.’
More than 400 nonviolent offenders have been able to walk free without having to post bail according to figures seen by the New York Post.
The latest attacks come a year after worrying statistics revealed anti-Semitic hate attacks in New York and New Jersey had hit a 40 year high.
In May, a report by the Anti-Defamation League found there had been more than 2,100 anti-Semitic incidents around the US in 2019, the highest number since the group started tracking data in 1979.
A Press briefing by NYPD Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey at 50th Precinct was held on Saturday in regards to arrest of suspect in recent vandalism of synagogues in the Bronx
Police stand guard in front of one of the Jewish-related buildings in the Bronx as the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigated the incidents
It found New York had the highest rate of anti-Semitic crimes of any state in the country.
More than half of the attacks recorded in New York City in 2019 took place in Brooklyn, the ADL report found.
A rash of attacks in 2020 were feared to be linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jewish people had masks ripped off their faces and suffered verbal abuse in several recorded incidents.
At the time, the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt said many of the attacks were filmed and posted online, resulting in copycat incidents.
The Riverdale Jewish Center in The Bronx is pictured where a suspect hurled rocks, smashing windows and doors over two nights
The attacks drew swift condemnation from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit was close to identifying the suspect in a Tweet last weekend