Clifton man charged with attempted firebombing of N.J. synagogue was a Bernie Sanders donor

Nicholas Malindretos, arrested today, lived less than four miles from Bloomfield house of worship

Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, New Jersey. (Photo: Google Maps).

Nicholas Malindretos, a 26-year-old Clifton man arrested today for attempting to firebomb a synagogue in Bloomfield last weekend, was a small dollar donor to a Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, records show.

Malindretos made a $27 online contribution to Sanders two days before the South Carolina primary.

Sanders is arguably the highest-profile Jew to seek the presidency; he won 23 states and 1,865 delegates against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primaries.

There is no other history of Malindretos’ political involvement and no evidence that he had any contact with the Sanders campaign.

Malindretos, who lives 3.7 miles from the synagogue, was working as a retail associate at PETCO at the time of his campaign contribution.

Around 3:19 AM on Sunday, a surveillance camera showed a man, later identified as Malindretos, wearing a black ski mask approaching the front entrance of Temple Ner Tamid, pausing, igniting a wick on top of a bottle, and then throwing the bottle at the synagogue’s front glass door, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said a vehicle passing the synagogue just before and after the incident was captured on a license plate reader, leading them to Malindretos’ car in Clifton.  Law enforcement obtained a search warrant, and nearby video cameras showed a man matching Malindretos’ description exiting the vehicle and entering a nearby building.

“No one should find that their lives are at risk by exercising their faith,” said U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger, who said law enforcement worked around the clock to resolve the incident quickly.

Sellinger and New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin commended the multiple law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation.

“In New Jersey, we stand united against hate and bias, and we speak with one voice to show that our state will remain a place where all can live and worship freely and safely,” Platkin said.

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David Wildstein: David Wildstein is the Editor in Chief for the New Jersey Globe.