New York church vandal held on bail in recent charge
The serial vandal, who was granted supervised release last year despite being accused of a laundry list of crimes – including one against St Patrick’s Cathedral – was eventually held on bail after allegedly throwing a rock at a Lutheran church in Queens.
Juan Velez, 29, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Monday on two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief – one as a hate crime – as well as a first-degree charge of aggravated harassment over the Jan. 29 incident at Grace Lutheran Church.
Judge Marty Lentz ordered Velez held on $50,000 bail or $150,000 bail, according to prosecutors and online records.
According to the files, he also has to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
The video allegedly showed Velez smiling into a surveillance camera as he threw the stone at Forest Hills Church in broad daylight – twice because his first attempt failed to shatter the glass.
He was arrested a week later, on Sunday afternoon, police said.
It comes more than two months after Velez was released in November over the St. Patrick’s incident and 14 other alleged felonies dating back to March – all thanks to the state’s much-criticized non-cash bail laws.
He was accused of throwing a wrench through the glass door of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s St. Patrick’s residence on October 28.
His previous cases included a disturbing incident in which he dropped a glass bottle over a railing on the second floor of the Columbus Circle shops as people walked underneath, officials said.
In a March 16 shooting, Velez was allegedly caught by surveillance footage kicking down a glass door in Central Park South, authorities said.
He was also charged with kicking in other glass doors and windows, smashing a parked car mirror with a skateboard and throwing objects through doors and windows, according to the complaint against him.
Velez was facing 14 counts of criminal mischief and one count of reckless endangerment, but the misdemeanor charges were not bailable, a Manhattan District Attorney’s Representative, Alvin Bragg, told The Post at the time.
“We continue to investigate this case to determine if any of the incidents were motivated by bias,” Assistant District Attorney Emilio Hernandez said, according to prepared statements at the indictment.
Velez had previously been accused of similar behavior several times, but those cases were dismissed in a psychiatric offenses court after he completed counseling sessions, according to prosecutors.
“Given these circumstances, a high-level supervised release is the least restrictive means of ensuring the defendant’s return to justice,” Hernandez said.
Critics slammed the decision to release Velez — including a law enforcement source who argued, “If you can do that to the cardinal’s house, nothing is off limits.”
https://nypost.com/2023/02/07/nyc-church-vandal-held-on-bail-in-latest-arraignment/ New York church vandal held on bail in recent charge