Long Island man arrested after blaring
Palestininan chant at Jewish wedding
BY JOHN LAUINGER and LARRY McSHANE
NY DAILY NEWS
Stephen Buttafuoco, 23, a waiter at the Woodbury Jewish Center on Long Island, was arrested for blaring a pro-Palestinian chant at a Jewish couple's wedding reception. Barcelo for News
Stephen Buttafuoco, 23, a waiter at the Woodbury Jewish Center on Long Island, was arrested for blaring a pro-Palestinian chant at a Jewish couple's wedding reception.
A Long Island man apologized Saturday for terrifying 700 guests at a Jewish couple's wedding by playing a belligerent-sounding Arabic chant through the deejay's sound system.
Stephen Buttafuoco, 23, delivered his mea culpa a few hours after he pleaded innocent to a hate crime charge and his parents posted $1,500 bail.
"The actions that I took were not very well thought through, but they were definitely not intended to be malicious in any way, shape or form," the clean-cut Queens College student said.
"I feel horrible."
The West Babylon man was working as a waiter at the Jan. 4 reception for David Zar and Amanda Aziz when he stunned revelers by blaring the two-word shouted message throughout the Woodbury Jewish Center, Nassau County police said.
Buttafuoco had used his cell phone to record an angry crowd shouting "Allahu akbar" - God is great - at a pro-Palestinian rally in Manhattan one day earlier.
Police described the recording as "an offensive Palestinian chant," and hit Buttafuoco with a felony rap of aggravated harassment as a hate crime.
The suspect, sitting in a shirt and tie alongside his father, said he hoped to make a face-to-face apology to the newlyweds.
"I would definitely like to speak to them in person, if possible," the young man said.
The groom, Zar, told the Daily News Saturday night he didn't press charges and he was actually startled to learn his wedding was at the center of such a controversy. "It was a surprise to us."
Zar said he didn't know who pressed charges against Buttafuoco.
"I'm not sure what happened," he said. "I'm still on a wedding high. This is the last thing I want to be thinking about."
The lawyer representing Buttafuoco - no relation to the infamous Long Island Lothario, Joey Buttafuoco - said his client is not an anti-Semite.
"Both the young man and his family are so sorry these events unfolded," said defense attorney Thomas Spreer. "And they wish to do whatever they can to apologize."
The suspect's father, Dan Buttafuoco, is a former Marine, the pastor of a Long Island Protestant church for the past 20 years and a staunch supporter of Israel.
Though he has argued with his pro-Palestinian son over the recent violence in the Gaza Strip, he said the waiter was just fooling around and was unaware the chant was audible to frightened wedding guests.
"He's been mistaken for being a ... how can I say the word, terrorist or something," Dan Buttafuoco said after his son's arraignment. "I guess everybody just went a little overboard with the reaction to this."
The suspect played the recorded shouts at about 1:30 a.m., as the wedding was winding down. Although police said he played it through the deejay's booth, Buttafuoco insisted he played it in a back room filled with audio equipment - and never knew it was audible to the wedding guests.
He wasn't arrested until Friday, when police said he surrendered without any resistance.
Buttafuoco, a waiter with Morrell Caterers for the past two years, was fired after the incident. He worked almost exclusively at Jewish events without any problems before his arrest, Spreer said.
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