By Jay Cook |
HOLMDEL – A former township resident, who police accuse of intentionally starting two fires and firing a BB gun at Holmdel locations of Neuhaus Realty Agency over a nine-month period, was arrested June 15.
Leonard J. Mazzarisi III, formerly of Burgundy Drive in Holmdel, was charged by the police with two counts of second degree aggravated arson, second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, third degree unlawful possession of weapon and third degree criminal mischief for three incidents.
On Aug. 17, someone set fire to the Neuhaus Realty Agency building at 51 Main St. in Holmdel. Police responded and concluded a fire was set on purpose in the rear of the building. A man was caught on surveillance video by officers from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) and the Holmdel Township Police Department.
Five months later at 10:18 p.m. Jan. 27, local police and seven different fire departments responded to the same location, 51 Main St., with reports of another fire. That blaze significantly damaged the two-story office and charred the rear and several windows along Main Street. Authorities from Holmdel and the MCPO investigated the fire and discovered similarities with the initial August blaze.
Neuhaus Realty Agency was forced to relocate to 4 South Holmdel Road, around the corner in the section of historic Holmdel, because of the second fire.
On May 29, police again were dispatched to Neuhaus Realty Agency’s offices after it was reported that a BB gun was used to fire rounds into the new building. Holmdel detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the shooting and matched cars from this incident and the January arson, which led them to suspect Mazzarisi.
A day later, Mazzarisi was found and arrested at a hotel in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was extradited by authorities to Monmouth County where he was due for a detention hearing in Monmouth County Superior Court June 19.
The Two River Times reached Neuhaus Realty Agency co-owner Mimi Neuhaus by phone June 15. Neuhaus wasn’t aware of the arrest at the time and said, “I’d rather not say,” when asked if Mazzarisi’s name meant anything to her. She declined further comment.
Mazzarisi faces a sentence of up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison on each count of arson if convicted. He would have to serve 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for release on parole and would be under parole supervision for five years following his release.
He faces a five-to-10-year prison sentence if convicted of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Five years must be served prior to becoming eligible for parole.
The unlawful possession of a handgun charge carries a three-to-five-year sentence in state prison with a period of up to 42 months that must be served prior to becoming eligible for parole.
Mazzarisi also faces up to 18 months in state prison if convicted of criminal mischief.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher J. Decker, director of the office’s Major Crimes Bureau.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact MCPO Detective Brian Weisbrot at 1-800-533-7443 or Detective Sgt. Theodore Sigismondi of the Holmdel Township Police Department at 732-946-4400.
This article first appeared in the June 21 – 28, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.