A 21-year-old Flushing man pled guilty to scrawling anti-Semitic graffiti nearby a Fresh Meadows synagogue and managed to dodge jail time. James Connolly a.k.a. SEP told the Queens District Attorney’s Office that he drew swastikas and wrote inflammatory slurs on parked cars, bus shelters, and a post office mailbox near the Electchester Jewish Center, located at 164th Street and Jewel Avenue.
In particular, Connolly’s graffiti called for violence against Jewish people on “7/14” - a date that law enforcement officials believe refers to July 14, 1933, when Nazi leader Adolf Hitler banned all political parties, except for the Nazis, in Germany.
For the crime, Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Buchter said that he planned to sentence Connolly to five years’ probation, 10 days of community service and order him to enroll in a tolerance sensitivity course at his sentencing on April 12, 2007. If he fails to comply, Connolly could be re-sentenced to anywhere from one and one-third to four years in state prison.
“This case rose above being a simple act of graffiti vandalism. The defendant knowingly perpetrated his destructive and hateful message in the very heart of Queens, home to many Holocaust survivors,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “Crimes motivated by bias and hate can never be tolerated - especially in a community rich in diversity as Queens County. Such crimes threaten the safety and welfare of us all. When they do regrettably occur they must be vigorously prosecuted.”
A second man, 20-year-old Anthony LaRosa, was also charged in the graffiti bias crime and is awaiting his trial, scheduled for Tuesday, March 20.