Suspect in California synagogue vandalism waives extradition hearing

  • ANTON NATHANIEL REDDING

A 24-year-old Millersville, Penn., man accused of a weekend break-in and vandalism of a Iranian-Jewish synagogue in Beverly Hills, Calif., has waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Anton Nathaniel Redding will be returned to California within the coming days to face charges in Los Angeles following the approval of extradition Thursday by Kona Circuit Judge Melvin H. Fujino, West Hawaii Today reported.

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Bail was set at $250,000 and a status hearing slated for January. If he has not been extradited by that time, Redding must be released.

Redding was taken into custody at about 1 p.m. Wednesday by Kona Criminal Investigation Section detectives and Special Enforcement Unit officers in Kailua-Kona. According to a Hawaii Police Department statement, Beverly Hills police detectives are on island and are assisting with the investigation.

Police said the alleged crime occurred Saturday.

County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said this morning, “If it’s true, I think what he did is terrible.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Redding has been charged with commercial burglary and vandalism of a religious property and said the charges, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department, including a penalty enhancement for a hate crime.

Beverly Hills police said in a statement the suspect, who was caught on security camera video, is believed to have committed “a series of minor acts of vandalism” in the area before entering Nessah Synagogue at 2 a.m.

“The suspect disrupted the furnishing and contents of the synagogue by overturning furniture and distributing brochures and materials throughout the interior,” the statement said. “The suspect damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the synagogue’s main scrolls survived unscathed.”

Rabbi Rachel Short of Ahava Aina congregation in Hilo said today she is “unbelievably sad and horrified by the amount of anti-Semitic attacks that are increasing on a daily basis in our nation and, unfortunately, around our world.”

Short said the presence of someone on Hawaii Island suspected of vandalizing a synagogue “hits very, very close to home” to her, personally.

“I’m grateful that it’s being taken care of,” Short said. “I don’t believe hate or intolerance or anything of that regard have any place on the Big Island of Hawaii.”

“We’re lucky … that we have so little of that here, but it is a wake-up call, I think, for us on the island to not stay asleep to what’s going on in the rest of the world and within our nation, as well,” she added.

Short said the timing is ironic, as well, that someone whose accused of damaging a synagogue is arrested here as Ahava Aina “is working to build the first synagogue for the Jewish community on the island” in Hilo.

“We’re lucky to live where we do,” she said.

The Times reported Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli announced Redding’s arrest Wednesday night at a community town hall and described the vandalism at a house of worship as “one of the worst incidents that can happen to a community.”

According to the Times, the announcement of Redding’s arrest drew a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Spagnoli said Redding got into a cab after vandalizing the synagogue, went to Los Angeles International Airport and flew to Hawaii, according to the outlet.

“I said we would catch this guy, and we did,” said Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch, the Times reported. “The criminal who we believe desecrated a holy place on Shabbat is now in custody thanks to the superb work of the Beverly Hills Police Department. The Beverly Hills community is strong and will not be intimidated by despicable acts.”

It’s unclear when Redding arrived in Kona, but according to court records, he was arrested Monday at Honolulu International Airport and charged with simple trespass and being unlawfully in a restricted area.

The complaint said Redding “did intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly enter any restricted area without the permission of the director of the Department of Transportation” and defined “restricted area” as “the operational area and all other portions of a public airport from which the public is excluded by fences or appropriate signs or both.”

Redding appeared Tuesday before Honolulu District Judge Clarence Pacarro and pleaded no contest to the trespassing charge. He was found guilty and was fined $50 with the fine suspended for 30 days. In exchange for Redding’s plea, the restricted area violation was dropped with prejudice, meaning the charge cannot be refiled.

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West Hawaii Today Associate Editor Chelsea Jensen contributed to this story.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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