Smiling NYC church vandal finally released on bail after latest arrest
The serial vandal, who was released under supervision last year despite being accused of a large number of crimes, including the crime against St. Patrick’s Cathedral, was eventually released on bail after allegedly throwing a stone at a Lutheran church. church in Queens.
Juan Vélez, 29, appeared in Queens Criminal Court on Monday on two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree — one as a hate crime — and one count of aggravated stalking in connection with the Jan. 29 incident at a Lutheran church. Grace. .
Judge Marty Lentz ordered Vélez to be held on $50,000 cash bail or $150,000 bail, according to the district attorney’s office and online records.
According to the documents, he must also undergo a psychiatric examination.
The video allegedly showed Vélez smiling at a security camera as he threw a rock at Forest Hills Church in broad daylight – twice because his first attempt didn’t break the glass.
According to the police, he was arrested a week later, on Sunday afternoon.
This comes more than two months after Vélez was released in November in connection with the St. Patrick incident and 14 other alleged crimes in March, all thanks to heavily criticized state cashless bail laws.
He was accused of throwing a wrench at the glass door of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s residence at St. Patrick’s Church on October 28.
His previous cases included one disturbing incident when he dropped a glass bottle over a second-floor railing at Columbus Circle stores as people walked downstairs, officials said.
During the March 16 spree, Velez was allegedly caught on surveillance footage kicking a glass door in Central Park South, authorities said.
He was also accused of kicking other glass doors and windows, smashing the mirror of a parked car with a skateboard, and throwing objects at doors and windows, according to a complaint against him.
Vélez faced 14 counts of felony disorderly conduct and one count of reckless mischief, but the misdemeanor charges were not bailable, Manhattan District Attorney spokesman Alvin Bragg told The Post at the time.
“We are also continuing to investigate this case to see if any incidents were motivated by bias,” Assistant District Attorney Emilio Hernandez said at the arraignment, according to prepared remarks.
According to the district attorney, Vélez had previously been accused of similar behavior several times, but those cases were dismissed by a mental health tort court after he completed counseling sessions.
“Given these circumstances, release under supervision at the highest level is the least restrictive means of securing the return of the accused to trial,” Hernandez said.
Critics criticized the decision to release Vélez, including one law enforcement source who argued that “if you can do it with the cardinal’s house, I think nothing is off limits”.
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