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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Temple Israel Protester Granted Accelerated Rehabilitation

By Dave Matlow

A Superior Court judge in Norwalk today granted accelerated rehabilitation (AR) to one of two suspects who disrupted a May 12 luncheon at Westport’s Temple Israel, shouting about Palestinian rights.

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Daniel Fischer (at previous court appearance): must also do 25 hours of community service. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Judge William Wenzel granted AR to Daniel Fischer, 25, of New Haven for 18 months, including 25 hours of community service. He was also ordered to stay away from Temple Israel and not to contact anyone from the synagogue.  If the program is successfully completed, the charges against him will be dismissed.

Co-defendant Gregory Williams, 25, who was also charged with criminal trespass first-degree and breach of peace second-degree, has pleaded not guilty and will return to court on Oct. 15. Having a previous record, he is not eligible for the AR program.

An attorney for Temple Israel, Bruce Koffsky, who was present in court, submitted a letter from the Temple supporting Fischer’s AR request.

The letter outlined the events of May 12, in which some congregants huddled under luncheon tables or fled the synagogue in panic as Fischer and Williams began shouting and banging on a door as they sought to enter a dining hall. (See WestportNow May 12, 2015)

“Mr. Fischer should be made to understand that his ‘political’ stunt caused panic and fear for both Temple Israel’s staff and guests and has caused Temple Israel to increase its security precautions – and as a result, its expenses,” the letter said. “This was not a victimless crime.”

The letter continued: “We say all the above with the understanding that Daniel Fischer has no criminal record, appears to be eligible for the AR Program and has been charged with misdemeanor offenses.

“That being the case, Temple Israel does not object to the granting of the AR Program for Mr. Fischer provided he engage in substantial community service where he can put his passionate support for the less fortunate to better use.

“Additionally, we would respectfully request that additional conditions of the defendant’s AR be that he not enter or go on Temple Israel property, not contact Temple staff or congregants and that he not attempt to participate in Temple Israel activities.”

Attorney Eugene Riccio, who is representing Fischer and Williams, said after the proceeding: “I appreciate the court’s granting of AR and appreciate the gracious position from the rabbi and synagogue members.”

Both Fischer and Williams are free on $1,500 bond.

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Posted 09/01/15 at 02:27 PM  Permalink



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