NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A guilty plea has averted a trial in an attempted murder case that brought unusual attention to a religious dispute in a Jewish enclave in Rockland County.

Defense attorney Deborah Lowenberg says Shaul Spitzer pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree assault. The 18-year-old is a member of a Hasidic sect in New Square.

Spitzer had been accused of severely burning neighbor Aron Rottenberg with a firebomb.

Rottenberg claimed that Spitzer was acting at the direction of the village’s chief rabbi because Rottenberg had stopped praying at the main synagogue.

The rabbi denied involvement.

Lowenberg says Spitzer could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

New Square, which is about 30 miles north of Manhattan, has 7,000 residents — nearly all of them members of the Skver Hasidic sect.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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