Man charged with defacing synagogue held on cash-only bond

| August 13, 2010

A homeless man charged with defacing an Olney synagogue was held on a $5,000 cash-only bond Thursday after a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge said he is competent to stand trial.

Judge Brian G. Kim also ordered Ian Jacob Baron, formerly of the 18600 block of Rolling Acres Way in Olney, a few blocks from B'nai Shalom synagogue, to participate in substance abuse and mental health treatments.

He instructed Baron to stay away from B'nai Shalom of Olney.

A lawyer is not listed for Baron in state online court records. Baron requested legal representation from a public defender via satellite at his Aug. 5 bond hearing, but that defense attorney did not attend the bail hearing.

Baron appeared in court via satellite.

Assistant State's Attorneys Jeffrey Wenner and Sherri D. Koch requested the cash-only bond at a bond review hearing held Aug. 5, claiming Baron's homelessness and contacts outside the state made him a flight risk. District Court Judge Barry A. Hamilton had ordered Baron to be detained without bond pending a competency evaluation.

At Thursday's hearing, Kim said Baron was found to be competent, meaning Baron will stand trial.

Montgomery County Police charged Baron on Aug. 4 with malicious destruction of property over $500, two counts of malicious destruction of property under $500, one count of race/religious property damage and one count of defacing religious property.

The synagogue had been spray painted with swastikas and the number "14/88," which synagogue officials learned was a reference to a white supremacy group. The graffiti had been found the morning of July 26.

Loose change was also scattered across the property, which police said was a possible anti-Semitic act.

On the same day the synagogue was vandalized, two Olney residences in the 18500 block of Rolling Acres Way were also vandalized. The mailboxes of both houses were spray painted red, and the symbols "SS," "14/88" and several swastikas were spray painted on the trees and yards of each house.

Montgomery County Police Cpl. Dan Friz said a Jewish family lives in one of the residences.

Friz said Baron has no permanent address and is known to roam the Olney area.

Police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

The Montgomery County Police Department follows the state statute in defining a hate crime as "a criminal act based on intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt or intimidate someone because of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or homelessness."

According to statistics provided by Montgomery County Police, 13 racially-biased acts were committed so far this year, with 25 in 2009, 29 in 2008 and 41 in 2007.

Baron was charged with second-degree assault in 2007, and was placed on supervised probation before judgment, according to state online court records. The defense attorney listed on those records could not be reached for comment. Baron also received a citation for drinking alcohol in a prohibited place in April.

An interfaith Shabbat service is scheduled 9 a.m. Saturday at B'nai Shalom at 18401 Burtfield Drive, followed by a discussion addressing the vandalism at 10:45 a.m. with an appearance by Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Members of the community are asked to RSVP by answering a survey on the synagogue's website at

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security