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Bergen Prosecutors in Aakash Dalal Case Received Trips to Israel From Jewish Group As Kickbacks

Former Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli

Less than a year and a half before disgraced, former Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli brought trumped up terrorism and bias charges against Aakash Dalal in the case of minor vandalism at Bergen County area synagogues, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey “awarded” Molinelli with several all-expenses-paid trips to Israel. The 10-day trips from the Jewish Federation came after Molinelli had helped the group secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money by having Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Detective William Stallone conduct free security assessments at the Jewish Federation’s 50 Eisenhower Drive building in Paramus (Law enforcement security assessments are a prerequisite for the grants).

View/Download PDF of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s 2016 $75,000 Nonprofit Security Grant Program application:

In 2007, the Jewish Federation, located a few buildings away from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office’s headquarters on 100 Eisenhower Drive, received $100,000 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The grant program requires applicants to claim that they have been victims of or threatened by terrorist organizations, networks, or cells. The group received $75,000 in 2010–a few months after funding the trips for several assistant prosecutors in Molinelli’s office.

Between 2013 and 2016, the group took in $100,000 more from FEMA with the assistance of Molinelli and current Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal. The Jewish Federation cited the case against Dalal as a “threat” in its applications for money. At Dalal’s trial in October 2016, Mark Zettler, the President of Temple Beth-El in Hackensack, testified that Joy Kurland, the head of the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, had told him “Don’t miss the opportunity to capitalize on this,” referring to the Dalal case and the grant program. Zettler would eventually receive $52,000 after a swastika was discovered spray painted on his synagogue.

Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Kearne

Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Kearney, Left, in April 2017

Bergen County Assistant Prosecutors Thomas Kearney, Vered Adoni, Catherine Fantuzzi, and Ron McCormick would eventually make the trip to Israel between April 29, 2010 and May 8, 2010. Thomas Kearney, pictured below at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, would go on to try the case against Dalal in October 2016. In October 2016, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey received $75,000 in federal grants with the aid of the prosecutor’s office.


Thomas Kearney, Vered Adoni, Ron McCormick, Catherine Fantuzzi (left to right) in 2010 outside of the Israeli Knesset

The Jerusalem Post reported on the prosecutors’ trip in August 2010:

In July, Molinelli received an award from the UJA of Northern New Jersey – which facilitated the exchange – for his efforts in creating “ambassadors” between the two communities. Hoping to make the exchange an annual event, the UJA steering committee hopes to sponsor a visit from four Israeli prosecutors next June.

The Times of Israel also reported on the trip in 2010:

Four Bergen County assistant prosecutors recently returned from a 10-day crash course on criminal justice in Israel. To their surprise, they found major differences between the legal procedures of the two democracies.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said he had been interested for some time in having his staff of 60 lawyers “learn how the administration of justice is accomplished in foreign countries, particularly in those jurisdictions where social settings would dictate a heightened awareness of the rights of both the victims and the accused.”


Aakash Dalal, Left, with former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

Dalal, a 19-year old Rutgers University student and Republican Party activist, was working on former United States Congressman Ron Paul’s 2012 President campaign in New Hampshire, when co-defendant Anthony Graziano caused minor damage to two Bergen County area synagogues. No one was injured in the incidents and prosecutors alleged that Dalal had “encouraged” Graziano from New Hampshire.

Molinelli was removed from office amid several corruption scandals including allegations that he may have accepted bribes in return for favorable plea deals, several lawsuits filed by former employees alleging racial bias and sexual harassment, charges of fraud against his executive assistant, and allegations by a former investigator for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office linking high ranking Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office officials to organized crime families.

Meanwhile, Dalal is facing 30 years to life in prison at sentencing. The charges have been criticized by many as politically motivated and several protests have been held in New Jersey.  The circumstances might have been different had the jury heard this.

Dalal Rally 2014

2014 rally by supporters of Aakash Dalal in front of the New Jersey State House in Trenton. Supports wore hats worn by India’s first Prime Minister.


  1. Raj

    Totally disgrace! How can you do this to any one for montary gain? The case of Mr. Dalal should be reopened…

  2. The entire trial was a sham. First of all I refuse to call Nazi logo or similar graffiti a Swastika. The Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Kearney and Assistant Prosecutor Brian Sinclair has grossly mislead the jury by calling the graffiti as “Swastika” for pictures of each incident of vandalism/graffiti at 3 synagogues. The first question that must comes to every one’s mind is whether it was Swastika or Nazi Logo that was drawn outside the Synagogues. It is a shame that ignorant/dishonest people wants to call Nazi Logo a Swastika for their vested interest. At no stage both of them as well as Aakash’s defense attorneys ever tried to show to the jury a picture of a Nazi Logo or Swastika, so that the Jury could compare and decide what name should be given to the graffiti/vandalism. Mr. Kearny and Mr. Sinclair both are reasonably well educated and knowledgeable individuals, how they can insult the religious feeling of other communities comprising 1.6 billion people in order to get a conviction of an accused beyond the proportions of his/her crimes? Symbols have been abused throughout history and hence the importance of explaining people their true origin lies with the present generation especially the educator, Judiciary, law enforcement, politicians, media and the religious leaders of different faiths.
    Then the Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Kearney in his closing statement on Oct. 27, 2016 stopped so low that is never expected from a lead prosecutor to get the heaviest conviction for the accused. He told the Jury that “Swastika is the most hated symbol in the world” in context of graffiti spray painting incident at 3 Synagogues in Dec. 2011 and Jan 2012. Prosecutor Kearney knowingly mislead the Jury because Swastika is also an article of faith and symbol of auspiciousness for over a 1.6 Billion people around the world out of the total 7.4 billion world population. That includes almost 1 Billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhist, 4.2 million Jains and 20-30 million other sects in Europe, China as well as American Indians in USA. Prosecutor Kearny and Prosecutor Sinclair must apologies to 1.6 Billion people around the world for calling their religious symbol as a hate symbol. They must apologies especially to the 2.5 million Hindu Americans for hurting their religious feelings and creating a fear in the minds of their children about their own religious symbol Swastika that is an article of faith and auspiciousness for them. Hindus are the 4TH largest religious community in America.
    Then Mr. Kearny again mislead the jury by showing them a comforter with black stains and telling the Jury; Rabbi Neil Schuman and his wife were sleeping under it when it caught fire. First of all this comforter was never produced as evidence during the trial rather a piece of carpet was produced with black strains as evidence of fire in bedroom. Comforter as well as piece of carpet has no burning holes. Then Rabbi Neil Schuman himself has testified during the trial that he used his comforter to douse off the fire from the carpet near the window and on the curtain. Both Anthony and Aakash are the victims of incompetent, ignorant and over zealous prosecutors. They both deserve punishment for what they did but not for what the incompetent, ignorant and over zealous prosecutors have manipulated to show them as enemies of humanity.

  3. Howard Silverman

    The Federation in Paramus refuses to donate to actual Jewish causes, but finds the money for this dirty prosecutor?

    The FBI needs to look into this arrangement.

  4. Mike D.

    The Rabbi claims to have gotten a minor burn to his pinky while putting out the fire and these prosecutors want to send this kid away for 30 years? Dalal wasn’t even in NJ when this happened.

    Only an idiot like Molinelli would bring terrorism charges in a case of minor property damage.

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