Matthew Mahrer, who made threats against the New York synagogue, is Jewish, relative of a Holocaust survivor: lawyer

One of two men accused of planning an attack on New York synagogues is Jewish and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, his lawyer claimed in court Saturday.

Matthew Mahrer, 22, was being held on $150,000 bail for criminal possession of a gun at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, although his attorney demanded that he be released on his own.

“There are a lot of questions here,” defense attorney Brandon Freycint said of Mahrer, who has reportedly been diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder, anxiety and ADHD.

“My client is of Jewish descent. He lives with his parents and his grandfather is actually a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor — and my client is a part-time janitor,” Freycinet said.

According to police sources, Mahrer and his sidekick Christopher Brown were arrested Friday on the Long Island Rail Road with brown guns and a Nazi armband.

Police officers searched Maher’s search and seized a loaded pistol with an extended magazine and a bulletproof vest from Mahrer’s Upper West Side apartment, which he and a sidekick allegedly intended to use in an attack on a synagogue, prosecutors said.

Christopher Brown wanted photo
Christopher Brown, who suffers from mental illness, recently threatened synagogues in the New York area with Mahrer.

Mahrer’s defense attorney, Brandon Freycinet, argued his client had no criminal record and said he was “of Jewish descent.”

But Mahrer had no criminal record and his parents had cooperated with the police, his lawyer said. The defendant spent some time in homeless shelters before moving in with his parents about a year ago, the attorney added.

“On that basis, Lord Judge, my client should not be involved in anything involving hatred of his own people and religion,” he said.

Assistant District Attorney Emilio Hernandez said Mahrer and Brown traveled to Pennsylvania together and bought the gun “with the intention of using it in an attack on a synagogue.”

The FBI and NYPD were on the trail of Mahrer and Brown, a “diagnosed schizophrenic” who recently told family members he wanted to go to New York and buy a gun, sources said.

“This defendant’s parents alerted law enforcement officers to the presence of a firearm in the defendant’s backpack at the defendant’s home,” Hernandez said.

Prosecutors claimed the couple knew police were looking for them and decided to leave the firearm in the backpack at the home.

Mahrer’s parents were in the stands at the prosecution. When the defense attorney spoke of her son, her husband put his arm around her shoulders.

“He’s not what they say,” his mother told the Post outside of court. His father declined to comment.

Mahrer is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday.

Brown, 21, faces charges of making terrorist threats, aggravated harassment and criminal gun possession, the NYPD said. He was not charged on Saturday. Matthew Mahrer, who made threats against the New York synagogue, is Jewish, relative of a Holocaust survivor: lawyer


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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