Harold "Heshy" Tischler, the Brooklyn right-wing radio host running for New York City Council, pleaded guilty to charges he directed a crowd to attack a journalist during a protest against coronavirus lockdown measures last fall.
At a virtual hearing Friday, Tischler confessed to the class A misdemeanor charge of "inciting a riot" that led to journalist Jacob Kornbluh getting attacked by a mob of demonstrators on October 7th in Borough Park. According to a spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, Tischler was sentenced to 10 days of community service for his role. He will reportedly work several hours at a food bank in Brooklyn.
Kornbluh, who was reporting for Jewish Insider at the time, was covering the series of nightly demonstrations, in which one of the protests included demonstrators burning masks in opposition to the state's three-tiered system of lockdowns in neighborhoods with high COVID-19 positivity rates. Restrictions were initially imposed in southern parts of Brooklyn, roiling Tischler, who repeatedly criticized the restrictions.
The demonstration eventually morphed into a pro-Trump rally with Tischler shouting "you are my soldiers" and “we are at war" to supporters. According to Kornbluh, Tischler had recognized him in the crowd the evening of the demonstration and ordered his supporters to chase after him. Kornbluh, who had been reporting on residents in the area disobeying coronavirus restrictions in the orthodox Jewish sections of Brooklyn, had been cornered by demonstrators and spat on. He was called a Nazi and "moser," a term describing a Jewish person who informs on members of their community. Kornbluh was pinned to a wall before NYPD officers could get him to safety. Another man, Morty Getz, was also beaten that night by a crowd of protesters and eventually hospitalized.
The Sunday following the incident, the NYPD arrested Tischler. Shortly after his arrest, Tischler's supporters visited Kornbluh's home, carrying Trump flags and threatening him until 2 a.m.
"I welcome the fact that Mr. Tischler acknowledged in the court of law that he incited a riot against me and has been held accountable for his actions," Kornbluh said in a statement he posted on Twitter. "I am looking forward to continuing my work in journalism undeterred."
The outcome of the case was first reported by The Forward, a publication Kornbluh now works for as a senior reporter.
Tischler, a Trump supporter who had spent a year in prison for immigration fraud, has courted controversy before. Weeks before the attack on Kornbluh, Tischler had disrupted a news conference held by city health officials in Borough Park who were raising awareness about the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the area. As Dr. Mitchell Katz, president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, spoke, Tischler had repeatedly interrupted him and shouted racial epithets, forcing a member of the city health department's communications office to end the news conference.
The conviction does not disqualify him from running for public office since he was brought up on misdemeanor charges. Tischler is one of five candidates running for the 48th Council District seat, which represents the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and Midwood. The seat had been held by Chaim Deutsch, who was forced to vacate the seat last month after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Tischler did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday. His lawyer, Ezra Levy, told The Forward the case will be dismissed and sealed within six months so long as Tischler keeps his court dates, stays away from Kornbluh, and out of trouble during that time.
"Any pleas will be vacated on that day as well," Levy added.