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Man pleads no contest to disparaging Muslims on Islamic Center's Facebook page

Man pleads no contest to disparaging Muslims on Islamic Center's Facebook page
Thousands of rounds of ammunition were collected at the Agoura Hills home of a man arrested on suspicion of making threats against the Islamic Center of Southern California. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

An Agoura Hills man who posted anti-Muslim rhetoric on the Islamic Center of Southern California's Facebook page has pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges, the state attorney general's office announced Friday.

The statement said that the defendant, Mark Feigin, also made threatening phone calls to the center. But Feigin's attorney denies that his client ever made any calls and said the threat charge was dropped.

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"It is disgraceful for a prosecutor to drop a charge, and then issue a press release implying that it got a conviction on that charge," attorney Caleb Mason said in a statement to The Times on Saturday. "An accurate press release would have read: 'We dropped the threat charge against Mr. Feigin because we didn't have a case against him.' "

A representative for the attorney general's office did not immediately return a request for comment Saturday.

The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into Feigin, 41, after the Islamic center received telephonic threats, LAPD officials said after they arrested him during a traffic stop. Those threats, however, did not come from Feigin, Mason said.

Police searched Feigin's Agoura Hills home and found several guns — rifles, shotguns and handguns — and thousands of rounds of ammunition, police Cmdr. Horace Frank said.

One of Feigin's defense attorneys, Robert Sheahen, said at the time that his client was a collector but never fired the weapons or planned on using them.

According to the attorney general's office, Feigin pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of harassing electronic communications and attempting to dissuade an officer from testifying against him. His sentencing is scheduled for May 1.

"We will not turn a blind eye to violent threats targeted at individuals based on prejudice, whether because of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation," Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The California Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who commit crimes motivated by hate. This plea reinforces our commitment."

Mason, Feigin's attorney, in his statement to The Times, further criticized the attorney general's office for issuing false information in its statement on Friday.

"The prosecution started this case with a press conference accusing Mr. Feigin of making a threatening call before anyone had ever looked at the phone records to see who the caller was," Mason said. "The evidence, which we uncovered through the discovery process over the opposition of the prosecution at every stage, showed that Mr. Feigin never called the Islamic Center. … The prosecution refuses to admit that it charged the wrong man, and that it publicly smeared him as a violent threat despite having no evidence against him."

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

UPDATES:

1:20 p.m., Jan. 27: This article was updated to include new comments from Mark Feigin's attorney.

This article was originally posted at 12:55 p.m., Jan. 26.

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