Man sentenced for hate crime for antisemitic scrawl

James Rizzo Jr., 38, has already served the jail time while awaiting the case's disposition.

By FRANK DONNELLY/ STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE N.Y.
July 26, 2018 18:41
1 minute read.
Illustrative photo of handcuffs

Illustrative photo of handcuffs. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

STATEN ISLAND—The Rossville man who scrawled antisemitic graffiti last year on a Jewish neighbor's garage door has been sentenced to six months in jail and five years' probation after previously admitting to a hate crime.

James Rizzo Jr., 38, has already served the jail time while awaiting the case's disposition.

Last month, Rizzo pleaded guilty in state Supreme Court, St. George, to third-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime, stemming from the incident on October 17. It was the top charge against him.

Prosecutors said Rizzo defaced the garage door at about 12:15 a.m. by painting a swastika and an antisemitic slur.

He admitted to the act after cops arrested him, said a criminal complaint.

The house is near the intersection of Wirt and Winant avenues.

Rizzo told police he knew the victims were Jewish "because of the way they spoke," according to the complaint.

The homeowner's son discovered the vandalism first, when he returned home early in the morning. He woke up his mother with the news.

The homeowner told the Advance the incident left her "very devastated."

The defendant was arrested two days later in front of his home.

Police said they were able to identify Rizzo, who lives across the street, as a person of interest thanks to the interviews and surveillance footage collected from area residents.

Rizzo was indicted in October on two felony counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and a felony count of aggravated harassment.

After his arrest, his criminal defense lawyer said the defendant had mental-health issues.

In November, a court-ordered psychiatric examination found Rizzo mentally unfit to stand trial.

The determination meant he didn't understand the charges against him and couldn't aid in his defense.

Rizzo was placed in a secure psychiatric facility for treatment and periodic evaluation.

Sources said it is not uncommon for such individuals to be found fit for trial after receiving appropriate medication.

Based on his treatment, Rizzo was deemed mentally capable of standing trial at a May 3 court conference.

As part of his sentence, Rizzo must also pay the victim restitution of $850.



©2018 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

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