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Woodmere teen's bail set at $50G in yeshiva-threat arrest

A Five Towns teen already suspended for text-messaging during his yeshiva class threatened on Facebook to bomb the school and the rabbi doling out his discipline, criminal charges against the youth allege.

Yesterday, the teen, Joel Levy, 16, of Woodmere, was arraigned -- and later freed on $50,000 bond -- on the charges: felony making a terroristic threat and misdemeanor aggravated harassment against the yeshiva, the Orthodox Jewish school Mesivta Ateres Yaakov.

Levy's mother, Caroline, wiped away tears as Judge Douglas Lerose of District Court in Hempstead issued a stay-away order barring Levy from contacting the rabbi, Yossi Bennett, who also is an assistant principal. The threat was posted Monday, after he suspended Levy Friday "because I was texting on my phone while in class," according to Levy's statement to police.

Bennett told Newsday he suspended Levy because, once caught texting, the teen refused to surrender the phone and stormed out of school.

The post is excerpted in court records: "I wouldnt suggest going to skool for the rest of the week. Considering i got a lot of plans involving all kinds of explosives, lighter fluid And all kinds of dangerous flammable items . . . Dont believe me? Then you'll find out the hard way. I am mainly blowing up bennets office."

Levy's peers alerted the school, which, in turn, called police, school executive director Richard Miller told Newsday.

"That's the only safe thing to do for the students," he said. "Especially in this day and age, especially after what happened in Boston, that was a no-brainer."

The threat prompted a school evacuation and surrounding streets to be closed for two hours Tuesday.

Defense attorney Stanley Kopilow, who unsuccessfully asked Lerose to free Levy without bail, said the teen never meant to hurt anyone.

"He's a good 16-year-old. Like many 16-year-olds, he doesn't understand the fact that you can't necessarily say everything that may be on your mind," he said. "But this is not a dangerous kid."

In the statement to police -- Kopilow said detectives improperly questioned the teen -- Levy described wanting to put a nail through Bennett's shoes, bind and torture him, pull out his nails and maim him, "and tell him to have fun in hell."

Miller told Newsday: "We have no interest in pressing charges. We just want him to get the help he needs."

Levy is an 11th-grader at the all-boys 180-student school on Washington Avenue, Lawrence, Miller said: "He's not coming back here. Has he been officially expelled? I don't know if he's been officially expelled. But I know he's suspended -- a long-term suspension."

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