On March 26th, 2020 Ocean County reported 468 total COVID-19 Cases, and and the United States as a whole had reached a total of 1,000 Covid-19 Related Deaths. At the same time there were reports of weddings and parties continuing to happen in the county, despite rules against them being in effect.

At that same time, the Lakewood Township Police Department and their Detective Bureau was made aware that Anthony Lodespoto had made threatening statements by way of the direct messaging feature of Facebook against the Jewish community of Lakewood. The next day, New Jersey State Police informed Detectives that Lodespoto had sent similar messages to the Facebook account of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. The threats largely consisted of Lodespoto threatening to travel to Lakewood with the purpose of assaulting members of the Jewish community with a baseball bat. Lodespoto was arrested without incident at his residence in Howell, and was lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing at that time.

Today Ocean County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael T. Nolan, Jr. announced that on August 7, 2020, Anthony Lodespoto, 43, of Howell, pled guilty to Bias Intimidation in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1 before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C. At the time of his sentencing on September 25, 2020, the State will be seeking a sentence of 180 days in the Ocean County Jail as a condition of Probation.  Lodespoto remains lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending sentencing.

First Assistant Prosecutor Nolan would like to acknowledge the fine work of Assistant Prosecutor Shanon Chant-Berry who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and New Jersey State Police for their collaborative efforts in securing this plea.