September 19, By Christian Murray
The man responsible for a rash of homophobic graffiti scrawled across several buildings in Astoria earlier this year pleaded guilty today to criminal mischief and is likely to be sentenced to six months in prison, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Yaacov Shemesh, a 53-year-old Astoria resident, pleaded guilty in relation to his six-month-long graffiti spree in which he scrawled 22 hate-filled messages on walls and doors throughout the neighborhood.
The judge presiding over Shemesh’s case, Supreme Court Justice Gia Morris, indicated that she would sentence Shemesh to 90 days in jail, as well as 5-years probation when he is sentenced on November 1, according to the district attorney’s office. He will also be required to take sensitivity training.
Shemesh admitted that he wrote homophobic messages between December 2016 and May 2017 that combined the name of former President Barack Obama and occasionally Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton. He struck residential and commercial buildings—as well as garages–within walking distance to his Newtown Avenue home.
He struck several times outside of Pistilli Towers at 31-19 Newtown Ave., the building that houses the offices of State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.
For instance, on March 20, he sprayed “Obama fag—-t” on the outside.
He vandalized a number of garage doors on 23rd Street (between 28th and 29th Avenues) scrawling in black paint: “Obama Faggot” and “Obama Dyke.” He targeted this location several times.
Police captured video of Shemesh on two occasions while scrawling homophobic graffiti that ultimately led to his arrest.