NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two men who worked for a Newark mayoral candidate have been indicted on allegations that they conspired to set Mayor Ras Baraka’s campaign bus on fire in February, prosecutors said Friday.
A grand jury on Friday indicted Michael Benkowski, 43, of Newark, and Shareef Nash, 36, of South Orange, in the Feb. 16 fire, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray.READ MORE: Glass Bottle Attack In Chelsea Station Just The Latest Incident As Subway Crime Increases
Benkowski and Nash were first arrested and charged in April. Benkowski is being held on $200,000 bail at the Essex County Correctional Facility. Nash was free on $200,000 bail. If convicted, each could face 10 to 20 years in prison. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday if they had attorneys.
Murray said Benkowski and Nash worked for Shavar Jeffries’ campaign. Jeffries issued a statement in April calling the behavior unacceptable and saying anyone involved in the arson must be prosecuted.
The grand jury said Nash, who was president of Jeffries’ Central Ward campaign office, hired Benkowski, a paid canvasser, to start the fire.
The bus was parked in front of the Baraka campaign headquarters at 423 Central Ave. in Newark, when it was set on fire and sugar was put in the engine, prosecutors said.READ MORE: Racism Declared A Public Health Crisis In New York City
Surveillance video and other technology revealed that a white Chevrolet Express van was involved in the arson.
On March 7, the 2007 Chevrolet Express van was pulled over near Morris and Central avenues in Newark, prosecutors said. Nash was driving the van, which was registered to his company, Prestige Professional Management LLC of Newark, prosecutors said.
Benkowski allegedly used the van to commit the arson. Investigators earlier said they traced the van to a person who is paid to work for the Jeffries campaign.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4″]MORE NEWS: Civilian Complaint Review Board: Dozens Of NYPD Officers Should Be Disciplined For Misconduct During Black Lives Matter Protests Last Year
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)