Warwick teen arrested in Jewish cemetery vandalism case

Charges include fifth-degree conspiracy as a hate crime; investigation continues


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  • File photo by Erika Norton Ellen and Jerry Sander visited the Temple Beth Shalom cemetery in Warwick, which was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti in October 2016.



BY ERIKA NORTON

More than a year after the Temple Beth Shalom cemetery in Warwick was decorated with anti-Semitic graffiti, an 18-year-old Warwick resident was arraigned Tuesday, Oct. 31, in Orange County Court on charges stemming from the investigation into the vandalism.

The day before, an Orange County Grand Jury indicted Eric Carbanaro, 18, with fifth-degree conspiracy as a hate crime, and two counts of tampering with physical evidence, all felonies. He surrendered himself on the indictment warrant Tuesday morning, according to court records, and was arraigned later that day.

Carbonaro’s attorney, James Pawliczek, entered a not-guilty plea.

The graffiti was discovered in the early morning hours of Oct. 9, 2016, and included black spray-painted Swastikas, “Heil Hitler,” and lightning-shaped “SS” insignias of the Nazi military police covering the Jewish cemetery walls near the intersection of Spanktown Road and Union Corners Road.

The State Police and the Town of Warwick Police Department have been investigating the damage ever since.

The chargesAccording to the indictment, Orange County prosecutors allege that Carbanaro took part in a conspiracy to damage property at the cemetery by spray-painting the anti-Semitic symbols and messages. The indictment also alleges that Carbanaro acted in concert with others to destroy evidence of vandalism by deleting images and other information pertaining to desecration of the cemetery contained on cellphones belonging to two other co-conspirators.

Between Oct. 9, 2016, and June 19, 2017, the indictment alleges one of the co-conspirators deleted a “meme” that read “secretly spray paints Jewish cemetery and gets away with it” while at Carbanaro’s residence.

“There is no room for this type of hateful desecration of religious property here in Orange County,” said District Attorney David Hoovler in a statement. “These anti-Semitic symbols and messages do not reflect the values of the overwhelming majority of Orange County and Warwick residents.

“Those who engage in hate crimes will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted by my office,” Hoovler continued. “I thank the New York State Police and the Town of Warwick Police Department for all of the resources that they have devoted to this investigation.”

This is the first arrest in the vandalism case, and the investigation will continue, according to Hoovler.

ReactionIn response to the arrest, the leadership and membership of Temple Beth Shalom released a statement thanking the local law enforcement and government officials for seeking justice for the hate crime.

“We live in an ethnically diverse county and it’s of great comfort and knowledge to know and witness first-hand that our law enforcement bodies, county officials and DA’s office are working tirelessly and seamlessly on behalf of all its residents to ensure not only the safety, security and sanctity of our Jewish communal organizations, but for not tolerating any form of hate, bigotry and racism towards any group of people and/or minority that live within the beauty of Orange County,” the statement said.

“Speaking out against hate, injustice, bigotry and racism are constant themes within the spiritual mission and values of the congregants and members of Temple Beth Shalom,” the statement continued. “These have been long standing traditions within our synagogue since its inception over 70 years ago. On behalf of our leadership, membership and countless souls whose memories, we the living are obligated to protect preserve and cherish, we say with love in our hearts thank you to the unsung countless public servants of this county. Thank you for protecting us daily, enforcing the laws of our communities ensuring the safety of all its citizens.”

Rise in anti-SemitismThe Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County also released a statement thanking the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and local and state law enforcement. It also highlighted the need for education in the face of rising anti-Semitic incidents within the county and across the state.

In the first quarter of 2017, there have been a total of 97 anti-Jewish incidents logged across the state according to an the Anti-Defamation League report, a 70 percent increase from the first quarter of 2016.

And while the total number of incidents across the state in 2016 essentially remained constant at 199, instances of anti-Jewish vandalism rose by 50 percent. Anti-Semitic incidents spiked 86 percent nationwide so far in 2017.

“This hateful act highlights the need for education in Orange County,” the statement said. “The Jewish Federation recently launched an initiative to combat local anti-Semitism and to sponsor programs that raise awareness of the scourge of anti-Semitism and that promote tolerance.”

The federation has developed a multi-pronged strategy and is working closely with the Warwick Valley School District to roll out a series of programs and initiatives in 2017/18 that will raise awareness of these issues, promote discussion and understanding and transform school cultures.

The activities will include professional development trainings for educators, school assemblies and the creation of a Stop Hate media campaign.

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