2017-10-04 / Front Page

Holy Hatred: Suspect Pleads Guilty In Church Burglary Spree

By Liz Goff
A 24-year-old homeless man pleaded guilty on September 19 to burglarizing four Queens houses of worship earlier this year.

Joseph Woznick told the court that he broke into the houses of worship to “get back at God,” and walk away with some cash, prosecutors said.
Police at the NYPD Grand Larceny Division arrested Woznick in the three-week burglary spree that targeted local houses of worship, including one Elmhurst church that was struck three times since during the robbery spree.
Cops said Woznick told investigators he pulled off the heists to “get back at God,” because he hated the Almighty.
“I’m mad at God. I don’t like church no more. I don’t want to deal with religion,” Woznick allegedly told investigators who nabbed him on April 11 that he is “sick and tired of hearing about religion.”
“I don’t break into houses, only churches,“ Woznick told the cops. “I break in to get back at God.”
Woznick pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary as a hate crime and fourth-degree possession of stolen property, among other charges, prosecutors said. The odd church thief lived in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn until last year, according to prosecutors.
Cops said Woznick started his religion-hating crime spree on March 21, when he swiped cash from three donation boxes at the Bangladesh Hindu Mandir Temple on 44th Avenue and 94th Street in Elmhurst.
Three days later, officials at the St. James Episcopal Church in Flushing arrived to find a door to the church office had been pried open and a lockbox containing about $1,900 cash was missing. Woznick allegedly returned to St. James on April 2 and 10, ransacked the office and stole a Canon digital camera, police aid.
Cops said Woznick stole three blank checks from the St. James office during the April 10 break-in. “When he came back for a third time we had nothing inside the office, so he stole blank checks, Fr. Paul Lai said.
A priest at St. Mary’s of Winfield Church in Woodside found a window in an office door broken on April 10, and an empty donation box lying on the floor next to a hammer, police said. Surveillance footage captured Woznick using the hammer to open the box on the evening of April 9, police said.
Following his arrest on April 11, Woznick confessed to stealing a $20 bill from underneath a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Woodside church, police said.
Cops also recovered surveillance footage of the St. James burglar wearing a backpack that exactly matches a backpack Woznick had with him when he was arrested. Two of the stolen St. James checks were recovered inside the backpack, along with a pawnshop receipt for a Canon digital camera, police said.
Cops said Woznick has prior arrests for possession of marijuana and possession of stolen property.
Woznick told police at the time of his arrest, “I’m mad at God. I don’t like the church no more. I don’t want to deal with religion. I’m sick and tired of hearing about religion, so I don’t break into houses, only churches.”
“In pleading guilty, the defendant has admitted he acted with hatred for God when he brazenly broke into the houses of worship,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendant sought to enrich himself as well as to strike vengeance on God by stealing from the religious institutions.”
Woznick is facing 1½ to 4½ years in prison when he is sentenced later this year, prosecutors said.

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