Fox Christmas tree arson suspect released without bail
The arsonist who allegedly torched the Fox News Christmas tree was freed after his arraignment Wednesday night because his charges were not eligible for bail under new liberal reform laws.
“I didn’t do it!” suspect Craig Tamanaha, 49, claimed to reporters outside Manhattan criminal court after being asked about the early morning arson that caused about $500,000 in damage outside the Midtown building that houses Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
Tamanaha, a vagrant with a lengthy rap sheet, also went on an incoherent rant outside the courthouse. He denied the arson and hurled obscenities at reporters before asking them for a cigarette.
“The moms that want to rape their f—ing daughters — they set it on fire,” he yelled.
The suspect was charged with a slew of misdemeanor charges — including arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass — for allegedly setting ablaze the 50-foot tall artificial tree with a piece of cardboard that was on fire.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bayley said at the arraignment that Tamanaha was “not charged with a bail eligible offense.”
Judge Martinez Alonso granted Tamanaha a supervised release at the request of prosecutors.
For a judge to set bail, Tamanaha would have to be charged with at least third-degree felony arson, criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow told FOX News.
Under New York law, arson is only a felony if the suspect tries to harm a person or commits a hate crime, he clarified.
Two open warrants for desk appearance tickets were also vacated by the judge.
Tamanaha was told to return to court on Jan. 4 and seemed confused about the order.
“Today I have to be here?,” Tamanaha responded.
The suspect has a history of destructive stunts, is homeless and abuses drugs, his father told The Post earlier Wednesday.
“Oh, he’s a nut. I can’t control him,” Richard Tamanaha, of Hawaii, said. “Mentally, he’s not all there.”
Since New York’s lenient bail reform went into effect, crime in the Big Apple has risen.
Outgoing Police Commissioner Dermot Shea recently described “the resulting crime that has flowed from disastrous bail reform law” as “insanity.”