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Man Charged In Torching Of Newark Mayoral Candidate’s Bus

A Newark Police Department cruiser. (Credit Steve Sandberg)

A Newark Police Department cruiser. (Credit Steve Sandberg)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man was arrested Friday after a candidate for Newark mayor’s campaign bus was torched.

Michael Benkowski, 43, was arrested Friday, according to the Essex county Prosecutor’s office.

He was charged with arson, criminal mischief and burglary for allegedly setting fire Feb. 16 to Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka’s campaign bus.

Benkowski taken into custody in an apartment on Broad Street in Newark, prosecutors said.

Investigators said they traced a van used in the arson to a person who is paid to work for the campaign of Baraka’s opponent, Shavar Jeffries. That worker has not been charged.

Jeffries issued a statement calling the behavior unacceptable and saying anyone involved in the arson must be prosecuted.

Baraka currently serves as councilman for the South Ward of Newark. Jeffries works as a civil rights attorney.

A recent poll showed Baraka with a sizable lead over Jeffries, according to NJ.com.

The election is set for May 13.

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