New York man who said he knew neighbours were Jewish by ‘way they spoke’ sentenced to jail for painting swastika on their home

New York police crew members removing a swastika from a garage in Staten Island. (NYPD 23rd Precinct)

New York police crew members removing a swastika from a garage in Staten Island. (NYPD 23rd Precinct)

(JTA) – A man who painted a swastika on a New York family’s home was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation.

James Rizzo Jr., who was 37 at the time of his arrest in October, told police at the time that he knew the Staten Island family was Jewish “because of the way they spoke.” He misspelled a Jewish slur on the garage.

Rizzo, who served the jail time while awaiting trial, pleaded guilty last month in State Supreme court to third-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime, the Staten Island Advance reported.

He was seen on surveillance camera footage vandalizing the white door with black paint of a house located down the street from where he lived.

Debra Calabrese, who at the time of the incident had lived in the house for 14 years with her husband and is not Jewish, originally told the local media that she did not plan to paint over the graffiti because she wanted people to see it, despite being urged by police to cover it up once their investigation was completed.

Following Rizzo’s arrest, a clean-up team arrived at the home to power wash and repaint the garage door at the behest of local City Council members.

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