FREEHOLD – A Morris County man has been criminally charged with a bias crime as the result of threatening comments he made at a Jersey Shore synagogue late last week, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Monday.
Nicholas Skirvin, 44, of Denville is charged with second-degree Bias Intimidation, third-degree Making Terroristic Threats, and Harassment, a petty disorderly persons offense.
Members of the Deal Police Department responded to the Ohel Yaacob Congregation at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Ocean Avenue North at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday, July 15 on a report of an unknown person recording himself with a cell phone while making obscene gestures and screaming profanity-laced ethnic and homophobic slurs and threats at synagogue congregants.
A fast-moving investigation resulted in Skirvin being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested by members of the Deal Police Department on a beach in nearby Asbury Park later the same afternoon. He was subsequently transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a detention hearing that is now tentatively scheduled to take place on Monday, July 25, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul Escandon.
The State is filing a motion to keep Skirvin detained pending the outcome of the case.
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“The hate-filled rhetoric heard last Friday in what is typically a peaceful neighborhood with a tight-knit Jewish community wasn’t just abhorrent and disturbing – it was criminal,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “The charges being announced today should send a clear message that we take such conduct with the utmost seriousness. There is no place for hate in Monmouth County – especially when it is the motive behind a crime.”
The Prosecutor’s Office sincerely thanks and recognizes the members of the Deal, Asbury Park, and Denville police departments who contributed to this investigation and arrest. The incident has also been reported to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, which tracks bias incidents and crimes occurring statewide.
This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Bureau. Skirvin is being represented by Robert E. Dunn, Esq., with an office in Morristown.
If convicted of the second-degree offense, Skirvin would face a term of up to 10 years in state prison.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendants have all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.