Suspected Fox News All-American Christmas Tree arsonist could be back on streets in a matter of hours: expert

Christmas tree set on fire at Fox Square, suspect arrested

Police investigate brazen crime outside Fox News’ headquarters

The alleged arsonist accused of setting fire to the All-American Christmas Tree outside Fox News’ New York City headquarters early Wednesday could be back on the street in hours, an expert said.

Police arrested tinsel-torching suspect Craig Tamanaha, 49, after he allegedly scaled the 50-foot-tall tree at the center of Fox Square just after midnight in Midtown Manhattan.

But 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.

Craig Tamanaha mug shot
(source)

“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 Norway spruce was turned into charred wood.

The Christmas tree at the center of Fox Square caught fire early Tuesday. Police said they arrested a man running from the scene.
(fox)

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.”

The tree will be rebuilt after the fire.
(Fox News Digital)

If Tamanaha is experiencing mental illness, a judge could order him held for a psychiatric evaluation. He is currently at the Midtown North Precinct. 

It isn’t clear why he targeted the tree. He has prior arrests for criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal mischief.

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