Posted: December 2, 2003
An Onondaga County Court jury recently found Ramses "Ramzi" Uthman guilty of setting fire to Temple Beth El near Syracuse, New York.
Uthman, 30, was convicted of all eleven counts he faced, including four hate crimes, on November 24, 2003, eight months after he was arrested in Los Angeles, California.
During his trial, Uthman, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Venezuela to Palestinian parents, admitted breaking into the temple to steal money, but claimed that his accomplice, Ahed Shehadeh, was responsible for the arson.
Shehadeh pleaded guilty to his role in the incident in June and is serving five years for burglary and aiding and abetting arson. Shehadeh, who turned state's witness, testified that after Uthman set fire to the Temple, he yelled "I did this for you, God!"
The October 13, 2000, arson, which coincided with the start of Sukkot, a Jewish harvest festival observed in the fall, caused approximately $700,000 in damages.