Prosecutor: Area Man Facing Aggravated Arson, Weapons Charges

A former Holmdel Township man is facing aggravated arson and related weapons charges in connection with the alleged purposeful setting of a pair of fires at a township business and a weapon fired into the same business, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said recently.

Leonard J. Mazzarisi III, formerly of Burgundy Drive in Holmdel, has been charged with: two counts of second-degree aggravated arson, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and third-degree criminal mischief.

The case background … 

On Aug. 19, 2017, Holmdel police responded to a report of a possible arson at 51 Main St. in the township, the site of the Neuhaus Realty Agency.

Evidence collected there suggested that a fire that damaged a portion of the rear of the building was purposefully set. A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Holmdel Township Police Department determined the fire was purposefully set by a male captured on video surveillance cameras.

On Jan. 27, 2018 at 10:18 p.m., Holmdel police responded to a second fire at the same Main Street location, finding heavy smoke and fire emanating from the rear of the structure.

Firefighters from the Holmdel Fire Department responded to the scene but the structure sustained extensive damage. An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Holmdel Township Police Department and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office determined this second fire to also be an act of arson, closely resembling the August 2017 fire.

On May 29, 2018, Holmdel police were dispatched to 4 South Holmdel Rd. in response to a report of a BB gun being fired into the building. The location is the newest location for Neuhaus Realty, which had been forced to relocate as a result to the Jan. 27 fire damage.

Detectives from Holmdel Township Police Department reviewed additional surveillance video to determine Mazzarisi was responsible for firing the BB gun into the window of the building, and that he was driving a vehicle that matched the vehicle seen in the video at the January 2018 arson at the former Neuhaus Realty location.

The following day, on May 30, Mazzarisi was found at a hotel in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he was arrested on outstanding warrants stemming from the investigation. Mazzarisi was held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford, Virginia until he was extradited back to New Jersey on June 12 to face these charges.

Mazzarisi is scheduled to next appear in Superior Court on Tuesday, June 19, for a detention hearing.

On each count of aggravated arson, Mazzarisi faces a sentence of up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

If convicted of possession of weapon for an unlawful purpose, he faces a sentence of five to 10 years in prison with a period of up to five years that must be served prior to becoming eligible for parole.

If convicted of unlawful possession of a handgun, Mazzarisi faces three to five years in state prison with a period of up to 42 months that must be served prior to becoming eligible for parole.

If convicted of criminal mischief, he faces up to 18 months in state prison.

— Edited press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office