Ocean County man pleads guilty to committing hate crimes against Orthodox Jewish community

An Ocean County man admitted Thursday in federal court that he committed a series of violent assaults on members of the Orthodox Jewish community in and around Lakewood.

Dion Marsh, 29, of Manchester, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi in Trenton to five counts of violating the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and one count of carjacking. Marsh was charged with willfully causing bodily injury to five victims, and attempting to kill and cause injuries with dangerous weapons to four of them because they were Jewish.

“This defendant violently attacked five men, driving a car into four of them, stabbing one of them in the chest, and attempting to kill them, simply because they were visibly identifiable as Orthodox Jews,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said.

“Today, he pleaded guilty to these hate crimes and a carjacking, and my office will ask the judge to impose a sentence that holds Marsh accountable for his brutal and hate-filled rampage,” Sellinger said. “The threat from hate-fueled violence is a sad reality across our state and our nation. That hate is not who we are. We are stronger as a people because no matter what you look like, how you worship, where you come from, or who you love, your civil rights must be respected and protected. My office has no higher priority than protecting the civil rights of our New Jersey residents.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, on April 8 of 2022, Marsh carried out a series of violent assaults on members of the Orthodox Jewish Community in and around Lakewood. Each of Marsh’s victims was dressed in traditional garments worn by members of the Orthodox Jewish community. They were all assaulted because they were visibly identifiable as Orthodox Jews.

On the afternoon of April 8, Marsh forced a visibly identifiable Orthodox Jewish man out of his car in Lakewood, assaulting and injuring him. Marsh took control of the man’s car and drove away.

That evening, Marsh was in Lakewood driving a different car when he deliberately struck another visibly identifiable Orthodox Jewish man with the vehicle, attempting to kill the man.

A short time later, Marsh used the vehicle to deliberately strike another visibly identifiable Orthodox Jewish man, attempting to kill the victim and causing him to suffer several broken bones.

Then Marsh used the stolen vehicle to try to kill another visibly identifiable Orthodox Jewish man who was walking in Lakewood by deliberately striking him with the vehicle. Marsh got out of the vehicle and stabbed the man in the chest with a knife, causing the man to suffer a stab wound and other injuries.

About an hour later, Marsh used the vehicle to deliberately strike another visibly identifiable Orthodox Jewish man who was walking in nearby Jackson Township, attempting to kill the man and causing him to suffer several broken bones and internal injuries.

The four hate crimes violations charging Marsh with attempting to kill those victims each carry a statutory maximum term of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The hate crime violation charging Marsh with assaulting the other victim carries a statutory maximum term of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The carjacking charge carries a statutory maximum term of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Marsh is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11.