FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 13, 2012
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Five Men Convicted and Sentenced For Destruction of Property,
Admitted Spraying Graffiti on Buildings
- Vandalism Mostly Took Place in Northeast Washington -
WASHINGTON - Five members of a group that tagged public and private buildings with graffiti have been convicted and sentenced in recent weeks on charges of destruction of property, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.
The activities took place between 2009 and 2011, with much of the damage done in Northeast Washington. Among other places, the defendants targeted a warehouse, liquor stores, grocery stores and even a church.
The defendants include Christopher Huff, 22, Andrew Marquesen, 34, and Edwin Merino, 22, all of Washington, D.C.; Jason Medina, 22, of Severn, Md., and John “Asad” Walker, 46, of Gaithersburg, Md.
Huff pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to two counts of misdemeanor destruction of property and was sentenced on January 5, 2012, by the Honorable Gerald I. Fisher. Walker was found guilty, also on January 5, after a trial and was sentenced that day by the Honorable Geoffrey M. Alprin. The others pled guilty last month to multiple counts of misdemeanor destruction of property and were sentenced by the Honorable Robert E. Morin.
According to the government’s investigation, each of the defendants used a distinctive moniker –or “tag ” – in their graffiti. Huff used the tag of “HUF,” Marquesen used “GATOR” or “G8R,” Medina used AERA,” Merino used“CHE,” and Walker used “MAR5.”
Search warrants, executed at the residences of Huff, Marquesen and Merino, led to the recovery of graffiti paraphernalia, including spray paint cans and sketch books containing graffiti art. Also, in post-arrest interviews with police, Huff, Medina and Merino admitted to carrying out various acts of illegal graffiti.
Huff, Marquesen, Merino and Medina received suspended sentences of between 360 and 540 days. Each was placed on two years of probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. The judges in their cases recommended that each defendant fulfill his community service requirement by participating in the Murals DC program, a joint venture begun in 2007 between the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the District of Columbia Department of Public Works. According to its website, the Murals DC program aims to “help replace illegal graffiti with artistic works” and to “revitalize sites within the community,” through graffiti art in a legal setting.
Walker, who was convicted of spraying graffiti on a Northwest Washington building in July 2011, was sentenced to a suspended term of incarceration, with one year supervised probation. He also was ordered to pay $713 in restitution to the victim of the crime.
In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of Metropolitan Police Department Officer Jonathan Jordan. He also praised the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Kalisha Johnson-Clark for her work in preparing the cases. Finally, he expressed his appreciation to Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Finkelman of the Fifth District Unit of the Superior Court Felony Major Crimes Section, and Jason Cunningham, of the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, who prosecuted the cases.