Ron Hirsch, a transient accused of setting off an explosive device outside of a Chabad in Santa Monica last April, pleaded not guilty to four felony charges in a downtown Los Angeles federal court on May 23. A trial has been set for June 28.
Charges against Hirsch include use of an explosive device to damage property, use of an explosive to commit a federal felony, use of a destructive device during a crime of violence and possession of an unregistered destructive device. If convicted of the four charges, Hirsch could face up to 70 years in federal prison.
Hirsch, wearing an orange jumpsuit and long beard, mumbled to himself during other defendants’ hearings. When Judge Patrick J. Walsh asked Hirsch if he understood his rights, he replied, “I don’t believe I did, your honor.”
After the judge reiterated his rights, Hirsch said he understood.
Hirsch also told the judge that the attorney slated to represent him was absent and asked to have another public defender assigned to his case.
No deaths or injuries were caused by the 250-pound pipe bomb on April 7, but the explosion resulted in minor damage to the synagogue and sent the pipe and concrete flying into the roof of an adjacent house.
Hirsch, 60, also known as Israel Fisher, was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month.
An FBI affidavit said Hirsch was linked to the explosion by a mailing label on a box of demolition agent, found near the scene of the explosion. Federal investigators also found empty dry-ice bags, plumbing tape, pieces of rebar, bags of cement and a pipe wrench.
Hirsch fled Los Angeles on the day of the blast and was arrested on April 12 in Cleveland after a rabbi recognized him. He has been held in federal custody without bond since.