2003-08-01 / Front Page

Teen Charged In Spray-Paint Bias Crime

By Brian Magoolaghan
Teen Charged In Spray-Paint Bias Crime By Brian Magoolaghan

A 17-year-old Rockaway youth, busted after police cameras allegedly caught him covering Temple Beth-El with spray-paint swastikas and other Nazi references, could face years in jail if convicted of the hate crimes for which he has been charged.

Johnathan Rivera, of 123-11 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, is being charged with two counts of hate-crime-level criminal mischief, making graffiti, two counts of possessing graffiti instruments and unlawful possession of marijuana. He could spend as many as seven years in jail, according to a representative of the Queens District Attorney (DA) Richard Brown’s office.

New York City Police Department (NYPD) Officer Michael Sykora said in a deposition that Rivera admitted he and some friends smoked marijuana and painted the Nazi graffiti and the words "Red Side Bloods," "R.I.P," and "Murda," on the temple located at 121-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Rivera was also in possession of a joint and a bag of marijuana at the time of his arrest, Sykora said.

The NYPD installed surveillance cameras at the temple after it was marred by graffiti in March. When another incident occurred in June, police reviewed the tape. Rivera and another unidentified person were shown spray-painting the house of worship, Sykora said.

A representative from Temple Beth-El, who requested anonymity, said the cost of reparations would total more than $1,000.

Rivera was arrested on July 18 and was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Pauline A. Mullings the following day. Bail was set at $25,000.

At press time, Rivera was in police custody on Riker’s Island. His next court date is August 8.

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