Homeless man who broke into 4 Queens houses of worship to ‘get back at God’ sentenced

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A young homeless man will spend up to four and a half years behind bars for stealing from three Queens churches and a Hindu temple earlier this year because he was “mad at God,” prosecutors announced.

Joseph Woznik, 24, was sentenced to one to four and a half years in prison, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. Woznik pleaded guilty in September to third-degree burglary as a hate crime, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and second-degree bail jumping with regards to an outstanding warrant issued in Florida last year on burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief charges.

In March and April, Woznik conducted a series of break-ins at houses of worship around Queens. In the first incident on March 21, an employee arrived at Bangladesh Hindu Mandir Temple in Elmhurst to discover that three donation boxes had been forced open and robbed of all cash inside. Fingerprints lifted from the boxes matched Woznik’s fingerprints, prosecutors said.

On March 24, April 3 and 10, Woznik broke into St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst. In the first incident, the church’s office door was pried open and $1,600 in cash was removed. In the second, a digital camera was stolen from the same room and in the third, three checks from the church’s checkbooks were taken.

Two checks from the church and a receipt from a pawn shop for the video camera were found in Woziak’s possession at the time of his arrest, prosecutors noted.

On April 10, Woznik also broke into St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Church in Elmhurst and St. Mary’s of Winfield in Woodside. At the Elmhurst church, Woznik attempted to gain entry by breaking a window, but fled the scene after an alarm was triggered. In Woodside, Woznik broke a window on the church door and ransacked an office within, prosecutors said. Using a hammer, the 24-year-old pried open a donation box, removed $20 from the church and left the hammer on the floor.

When Woznik was arrested, he told investigators he was “mad at God.”

“I don’t like churches no more. I don’t want to deal with religion,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of hearing about religion. I don’t break into houses, only churches. I break in to get back at God.”