2017-09-27 / Front Page

Judge Promises Jail Time For Graffiti Hate Messenger

By Liz Goff
A 53-year-old Astoria man is facing jail time for scrawling nearly two-dozen homophobic hate messages on walls and doors in his neighborhood earlier this year.

Yaacov Shemesh pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mischief in the six-month long graffiti spree where he spray painted homophobic slurs and Anti-Obama messages on buildings and garage doors in Astoria, Queens District Attorney Richard Brow said.

The hate-filled messages were scrawled at least two times on a wall outside the offices of State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, prosecutors said. Shemesh also used former President Barak Obama’s name as part of an anti-gay message scrawled on a set of garage doors on 23rd Street near 28th Avenue three times between December 2016 and May 2017, prosecutors said.

Shemesh also used Mayor Bill deBlasio’s name in several of the slurs, a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney’s Office said. Police said Shemesh spray painted the messages on both residential and commercial buildings in his own neighborhood 22 times since March 13.

Police on routine patrol out of the 114th Precinct arrested Shemesh near his Astoria residence on June 1, when they recognized him from a photo on an NYPD “Want3d” poster.

Shemesh pleaded guilty on September 19 to multiple counts of third-degree criminal mischief before Acting Supreme Court Justice Gia Morris, who indicated she would sentence him to 90 days in jail, five years probation and court-ordered sensitivity training on November 1.

“The defendant has now admitted his guilt.” Brown said. “For months, he plastered messages of hate and intolerance on various structures throughout Astoria. The defendant, as a result of his actions, will go to jail,” Brown said.

In a statement released by his office on June 2, Gianaris praised officers and officials at the 114th Precinct and the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force for their efforts to capture Shemesh.

“The acts of senseless vandalism our community was forced to endure were outrageous and unacceptable,” Gianaris said. “I thank the men and women of the 114th Precinct and the Queens District Attorney’s office, especially Dep. Inspector Peter Fortune, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Assistant District Attorney Barry Frankenstein for their hard work and successful efforts to apprehend the suspect and bring him to justice,” Gianaris said. “There is no amount of bigotry or xenophobia that can tear our diverse neighborhood apart."


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