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Rego Park Iranian charged after buying grenade: DA

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Joshua Hedvat, 57, was arrested May 9 when authorities said he attempted to purchase the inert grenades on a Forest Hills street corner during a sting operation. That same day detectives executed a search warrant of his apartment at 65-36 99th St. where they found a MAC-10 machine gun with the serial number scratched off, three loaded magazines and 149 bullets stuffed in a bag inside a closest, according to the criminal complaint.Hedvat, a dual Israeli and Iranian citizen and legal resident of the United States, was deemed a flight risk and ordered held without bail at Sunday's arraignment by Queens Supreme Court Justice James Griffin. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.His attorney, Legal Aid representative Samantha Seda, said her client, who pleaded not guilty, "denies everything." She added that Hedvat wanted to testify in Hebrew to the grand jury, but the judge would not allow it since he also spoke English. Seda called this decision "outrageous.""Whether he spoke English or not is not the point. Maybe he felt more comfortable talking in Hebrew since he was an Israeli soldier," she said. "They should've allowed it, especially when I had found a Hebrew-speaking lawyer for him to talk to."Seda said she will file a motion by Friday to have the indictment dismissed. That motion will be addressed at Hedvat's next court date Feb. 24.Hedvat's motivation for acquiring the grenades is unclear, but police have suggested it could have stemmed from his feeling cheated after losing a decade-long legal battle in the 1980s, in which he claimed to have been swindled out of a large amount of stocks. The DA said investigators found during their search a bank book in which Hedvat had written that he had a $67,000 mutual fund. It is uncertain whether that money does exist or ever did.It was also believed that Hedvat was particularly angry at U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), although police could not confirm whether any threats were ever made, police said."He feels there might have been a conspiracy," Seda said, adding, however, that Hedvat insists his grudge never led to any criminal acts.Reach reporter Zach Patberg at news@timesledger.com or at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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