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Bloomingdale man facing retaliation charges

Molnar

STEUBENVILLE — A Bloomingdale man who allegedly threatened the life of the Jefferson County judge sentencing his son to prison on a weapons violation has been charged with retaliation.

John Molnar, 61 Salem Township Road 204, was ordered held without bond following his arraignment Monday before Wintersville County Court Judge Michael Bednar.

Molnar, 74, was taken into custody Thursday after employees at a local gun shop told Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies they were concerned he posed a threat to the safety of Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. when he tried to buy a cartridge for a 9 mm handgun he claimed a neighbor had given him for protection.

According to the arrest report, Molnar didn’t have the gun with him nor did he know the model number, which the clerk considered suspicious.

She told deputies “(his) actions and the way he was talking (made) her nervous,” adding he’d complained that “Jefferson County is so anti-gun and how sometimes people just can’t take it anymore.”

The clerk told deputies Molnar “started talking about his son being in trouble with the law for discharging a firearm in the city of Steubenville with an illegal silencer” and how “Bruzzese was shot because he is a gun-hating man who took everything away from that man, and sometimes you have no choice.”

Bruzzese was walking from his car to the courthouse in August 2017 when 51-year-old Nathaniel Richmond ambushed him. The judge and a probation officer who was behind him returned fire, killing Richmond.

Molnar allegedly told the clerk Richmond “did not do it right” and said had he done so, it would not be a problem for him now, and that “maybe the next guy will do it right.”

Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said retaliation is a third degree felony.

“It has to do with making a threat to harm a public servant for doing his job, doing something in his official capacity,” she said, adding that in Molnar’s case, “it involves a threat to harm a judge” who was going to sentence his son.

“We take it seriously at any time, but certainly, when it involves a judge who has already experienced harm while performing his job, it’s certainly something we’re going to take seriously,” Hanlin said.

Molnar’s son, John Molnar Jr., 38, was sentenced by Bruzzese Thursday to a year behind bars after he admitted discharging a weapon across a highway in July 2020.

Police said the younger Molnar fired a high-powered rifle from a room he had booked for a month at the Super 8, striking a Franciscan University of Steubenville sign across the road. Police counted 38 bullet holes in the sign, and said all but one of them ricocheted into a wooded area nearby. Investigators located one round in a maple tree, and were able to use it to plot the trajectory back to Molnar Jr.’s room. Police, armed with a warrant, said a search of the room yielded a live .223 round in a dresser drawer and a spent round in the waste basket, and noted the window screen appeared “to have many bullet holes in it.”

The clerk told deputies the elder Molnar was upset Bruzzese “would not let his son plea out the case” and was going to send him to prison.

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