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A 40-year-old Jackson Heights man was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Saturday on charges of spray painting graffiti on a library and religious buildings in Jackson Heights, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
Franco Rodriguez, who lives at 86th Street and 35th Avenue, allegedly told authorities that he did it because he was being harassed by Jewish people, the DA said.
“As a civilized society, we will not stand idly by and allow individuals to mar our neighborhoods with such hate graffiti,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
Rodriguez allegedly drew three swastikas with black spray paint on a window and two doors of the Jackson Heights Library Nov. 3 at around 5:30 a.m., the DA said.
Later that morning, sometime before 8 a.m., Rodriguez is accused of spray painting the lens of a security camera at synagogue Congregation Tifereth Israel of Jackson Heights, at 31-36 88th St., then painting another swastika on the front door of the building.
Rodriguez allegedly struck a final time sometime before noon Nov. 4, spray painting a swastika on the side door of the St. Joan of Arc Church, at 82-00 35th Ave. in Jackson Heights, the DA said.
Rodriguez faces three counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and three counts of making graffiti, the DA said. If convicted, he could be sentenced up to four years in prison, the DA said.
The NYPD initially arrested Rodriguez in connection with the swastikas painted on the Jackson Heights Library, at 35-51 81st St., Oct. 31 and the East Elmhurst Library, at 95-06 Astoria Blvd. in East Elmhurst, Nov. 3 in addition to the above crimes, but Rodriguez had not been arraigned on these charges as of Tuesday, the DA said.
Rodriguez has been held on $5,000 bail and his next court date is Dec. 1.
Numerous elected officials and Jewish leaders gathered at the Jackson Heights Library Nov. 4 to condemn the acts and offer a reward for the culprit’s capture.
“I’m glad that he’s been arrested because it sends a message to the community that we will not tolerate hatred,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said.
The spray painting happened before the massive acts of anti-Semitic vandalism in Brooklyn this weekend that left three cars torched and “KKK” graffiti spray painted on benches and cars in the area.
“Just last week, communities in Queens were defaced with swastikas in another act of bigotry, and today the Jewish community is confronted with signs that ignorance and intolerance have not fully disappeared from our society,” City Comptroller John Liu said in a statement about the Brooklyn attacks.
The crimes did not appear to be connected.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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