Hate Crimes Spree: Man Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Orthodox Jews in NJ City

LAKEWOOD, New Jersey — A man has pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes for a string of violent attacks against Orthodox Jews in the heavily Orthodox area of Lakewood, New Jersey. In April 2022, Dion Marsh carried out a series of attacks against Orthodox Jews in and around the city, which is a central hub of Orthodox Jewish life. The victims were targeted because of their traditional attire and Marsh specifically targeted them because of their Jewish faith, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Marsh, 29, admitted to five hate crimes charges and one count of carjacking. The Justice Department stated that he attempted to kill four victims and assaulted a fifth. He now faces a potential life sentence in prison. Marsh told investigators that the attacks “had to be done” because he believed Hasidic Jews are “the real devils,” according to the federal complaint.

The daylong attack spree included forcing a Jewish man out of his car, assaulting him, and driving off in the stolen vehicle. Marsh also used another vehicle to ram a Jewish man, causing severe injuries. He then switched into another vehicle and used it to ram two more Jewish men, attempting to murder them and causing serious injuries. In the final attack, Marsh hit another Orthodox Jewish man, causing broken bones and internal injuries. He was arrested later that night at his home.

The Anti-Defamation League stated that Marsh had not displayed any indication of antisemitism before the attacks. The guilty plea comes as the ADL has reported a spike in antisemitism nationwide following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. The FBI investigated the case along with local police. The guilty plea served as a reminder of the ongoing threat of hate-fueled violence and highlighted the need for continued efforts to combat antisemitism. Each hate crime charge could result in a penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, in addition to separate state charges Marsh faces.