Man Accused of Carving Swastika Into Neighbors' Front Yard

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A gay couple from New Jersey alleges their neighbor has terrified them for months, mostly recently by carving a swastika in their front lawn. (Published Thursday, Aug 14, 2014)

A New Jersey man has been charged with a hate crime after allegedly carving a swastika into a gay couple's front yard on Sunday, authorities say.

Forty-five-year-old Scott Cooney, of Lakewood, was charged with bias intimidation, harassment and criminal mischief after the victims told police they saw him carve the symbol into their lawn with what appeared to be a lead pipe, according to Ocean County prosecutors.

The victims, Fred Blumberg and Pete Costello, told police that Cooney had harassed them for months before the swastika was carved into their lawn.

"I started shaking. I got fearful of my own life," Costello said of when he saw the swastika.

The couple said Cooney has also harassed them for being gay.

Blumberg said he and Costello tried to be friendly to Cooney when they first moved to the neighborhood in March, but Cooney thumbed his nose at the overtures -- and proceeded to harass them.

According to Blumberg, who is Jewish, Cooney said his mother should have "burned in the ovens" and Blumberg should get it next. He would also allegedly quote Hitler. 

Cooney was arrested Wednesday at his home.

It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Blumberg said he and Costello expect Cooney to return home at some point, and they don't know what to do when he does. 

"I'm at a loss for words. I don't know how it can go forward," Blumberg said. 

He and Costello do not plan to move. 

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