Vandal Suspect Arraigned On 30 Graffiti Charges
Oliver Siandre, 27, of 100 West 92nd St., Manhattan, a jewelry model maker whose “tag” of KIKO has been found on public and private property throughout Astoria and Long Island City, was arraigned last Thursday on a 30-count indictment with three counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, five counts of criminal mischief in the third degree, five counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree, 15 counts of making graffiti and two counts of possession of graffiti instruments. City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and a contingent of Astoria residents and community groups, including the 114th Civilian Observation Patrol (114th Civ-OP) and the New York AntiCrime Agency, looked on as Queens Supreme Court Justice James P. Griffin increased Siandre’s bail to $25,000 and he was taken away in handcuffs.
According to the charges, between Oct. 1, 2004 and Dec. 5, 2005, Siandre spray painted his tag name, “KIKO”, on various public and private properties in Queens, including Saint Demetrios Greek American School, 30-03 30th Dr., Astoria; a pillar, a tree and the ground inside Athens Square Park at 30th Avenue and 30th Street, Astoria; the garage door of the Powhatan Regular Democratic Club, 41-05 Newtown Rd., Long Island City, and a Metropolitan Transit Authority overpass.
Vallone first noticed Siandre’s tag on the columns at Athens Square Park. After having the graffiti removed, Vallone noticed the tag everywhere—on trees, cars, trucks and buildings. Vallone worked with the local police precinct and the Queens District Attorney’s office to make the vandal’s capture a top priority. Siandre was arrested at his Manhattan home on Oct. 4, 2005.
After reading a statement given by Siandre to the police in which he admitted to placing his “tag” throughout Astoria and claimed that he defaced the columns in Athens Square Park while he was "drunk”, Assistant District Attorney Mike Brovner requested that Siandre’s bail be increased to $50,000 due to the indictment and increased strength of the evidence, but Griffin set bail at half that amount. Brovner said that Siandre had refused an offer from the District Attorney's office of one year in jail. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison
“I’m here in court with other residents to express the outrage of our entire community. We’re glad that Judge Griffin set a bail which reflects the seriousness of the charges,” Vallone said. When told that Siandre’s family and supporters claimed that no one should go to jail for graffiti, Vallone replied, “That's the problem. There’s a culture out there that doesn’t believe defacing someone else's property is a serious offense and we're sending a clear message that it is. What we want graffiti vandals to know is that we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. I hope [Siandre] has as much fun eating baloney sandwiches at Rikers as he did attempting to destroy our community.”
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown agreed with Vallone that graffiti is a symptom of criminality and negatively affects the quality of life of all citizens through decreased property values and increased taxes and places a financial burden on affected businesses and homes. “We cannot allow one individual to mar the beauty of our city and threaten to return us to the days when our transit system and our highways and buildings were covered with graffiti,” he declared. He added that city officials and anti-graffiti activists have done a remarkable job over the years in cleaning up New York City’s image as a graffiti-scarred city.
Siandre is scheduled to return to court on April 6.
It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.