Man disrupts wedding with Arabic chant

January 10, 2009 3:35:31 PM PST
A waiter who shocked guests at a Jewish wedding by playing a recording of a crowd chanting in Arabic has pleaded not guilty to a felony harassment charge.Nassau County police said Stephen Buttafuoco was working at the Woodbury Jewish Center on Long Island on Jan. 4 when he played the chant over a sound system.

He was arrested Friday and arraigned Saturday. He was scheduled to be released on $1,500 cash bail, said his lawyer.

Investigators said the 23-year-old West Babylon man made the recording when he attended a rally opposing the Israeli offensive in Gaza, during which protesters chanted, "Allah Akbar," or "God is great."

Buttafuoco said he was playing the recording for a co-worker and was unaware it was being amplified, according to his lawyer, Tom Spreer.

Spreer said Buttafuoco's father is a former Marine and pastor of a church in Babylon, and the family was sorry about the incident.

"They are a good family and they are very upset about what happened," Spreer said. "And they wish to apologize to everyone who attended the wedding."

Police initially released a statement saying that Buttafuoco had also been charged with disrupting a religious service. Spreer said, however, that the charge was not introduced at his arraignment.

Newsday reported a grand jury will consider whether to bring the charge.

Police said the defendant is not related to Joey Buttafuoco, who went to prison in the Amy Fisher scandal.

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