Tinsel-torching suspect Craig Tamanaha, 49, was apprehended shortly after midnight in Midtown Manhattan after reportedly scaling the 50-foot-tall tree in the heart of Fox Square.
Former Manhattan prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow said he will likely be free by late Thursday since his crimes do not qualify for bail. “You can’t give the Christmas tree an order of protection, so security will have to stand guard,” he said. Fox News reported.
“There’s no question that the legislature has got to reevaluate the nooks and crannies of the bail statute because it’s leading to absurd outcomes.”
Officers nabbed Tamanaha as he allegedly tried to flee the scene. The fire was extinguished but not before the red, white, and blue decorated tree was turned into charred wood.
Tamanaha, who is believed to be homeless, cannot be held on bail for the alleged crimes due to the criminal justice reforms enacted in January 2020.
He faces one count each of second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree reckless endangerment, fifth-degree arson, second-degree criminal nuisance, third-degree criminal trespass, third-degree criminal tampering and disorderly conduct. All the arrest charges are misdemeanors and judges do not have the discretion to set bail on any of the counts.
For arson to qualify for bail, Tamanaha would have to at least be charged with third-degree arson as a hate crime.
“You’d have to intentionally damage a building or vehicle by starting a fire or explosion as a hate crime, which is an extraordinarily high bar for bail eligibility,” Bederow said. “Having a personal bias or animus toward Christmas doesn’t legally cut it.”
“On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at approximately 0014 hours, a 49-year-old male was observed by Fox News Channel security climbing the Christmas tree decorated outside their office building near the corner of West 48 Street and Sixth Avenue, within the confines of the Midtown North Precinct. Upon arrival, officers observed the male running from the location and he was taken into custody without further incident. The fire within the tree was extinguished without further injury or incident by responding FDNY personnel.” Daily Mail reported citing an update provided by an NYPD spokesperson.