Police have arrested a Forest Hills man who they believe drew a swastika onto a synagogue a few blocks away from his home in February.
Ramtin Rabenou, 41, was arrested on Thursday, April 15, and charged with aggravated harassment and criminal mischief as a hate crime after he defaced a synagogue, located at 97-30 Queens Blvd., with the symbol of hate on Wednesday, Feb. 17, police said. Rabenou was arraigned on the charges, among others, in Queens Criminal Court on Friday, April 16.
Surveillance footage from around the synagogue allegedly showed Rabenou tagging various street lamps, emergency response boxes and traffic devices around the time of the incident, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Rabenou identified himself in the footage when police showed the suspect the tapes while questioning him, Katz said.
The swastika drawing prompted an immediate rebuke from elected leaders in the area.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz wrote a letter condemning the act of anti-Semitic vandalism.
“There is absolutely no room for this kind of hatred in our community,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We have consulted with the NYPD, and are confident that the perpetrator behind this cowardly offense will be found, and will face justice.”
Rabenou was ordered to return to court on April 30. If convicted, he faces up to 16 months to four years in prison.
This story was updated at 3:48 p.m., on Friday, April 16, 2021.