Queens Man Charged With Hate Crime in Swastika Spray Paint Spree

District Attorney Richard Brown said Rodriguez allegedly spray painted swastikas on a library, synagogue and church in Jackson Heights earlier this month.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police look for vandals who left hateful messages. (Published Friday, Nov 4, 2011)

    A Jackson Heights man has been charged with graffiti as a hate crime for allegedly spray painting swastikas on a library, synagogue and church in his Queens neighborhood earlier this month, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday.
      
    Franco Rodriguez, 40, was arraigned Saturday on a criminal complaint charging him with three counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime and three counts of making graffiti. 

    Rodriguez, who faces up to four years in prison if convicted, was ordered held on $5,000 bail. He's next due in court Dec. 1. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
     
    Brown said that, according to the charges, Rodriguez used black spray paint to draw three swastikas on a window and two glass doors of the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Public Library at about 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 3. 

    In the second instance, Rodriguez allegedly drew a swastika with black spray paint on the front door of Congregation Tifereth Israel, a synagogue located on 88th Street in Jackson Heights. That incident happened some time before 8 a.m. on the same day as the first.

    The lens of the synagogue’s surveillance camera was also allegedly spray painted, authorities said. 

    Rodriguez also allegedly painted a swastika in black spray paint on the front of the side door of St. Joan of Arc Church on 35th Avenue some time before noon on Nov. 4. 

    At the time of his arrest, Rodriguez allegedly told authorities that he spray painted the swastikas on the three buildings and that he did so because Jewish people were harassing him.

    "As a civilized society, we will not stand idly by and allow individuals to mar our neighborhoods with such hate graffiti," Brown said in a statement. "When it, regrettably, does occur, those responsible will be brought to justice."