Montauk Man Charged With Hate Crime in Antisemitic Graffiti Spree | The East Hampton Star

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney on Tuesday announced the arrest of a Montauk man said to be responsible for spray-painting swastikas and antisemitic phrases in the hamlet on Oct. 30 and Nov. 11.

Mr. Tierney said Michael Nicholoulias, 74, “made admissions” to law enforcement authorities after being arrested in Montauk at about 12:20 a.m. on Tuesday, just moments after detectives witnessed him spray-paint a swastika on a bench. The defendant also made “derogatory statements” with regard to the United States involvement in military conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, according to the D.A.

“Given the nature of what’s going on,” Mr. Tierney said at a press conference in Riverhead on Tuesday, it was “particularly important that we bring the person responsible to justice.”

Mr. Nicholoulias, who was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in East Hampton Town Justice Court by Justice Lisa R. Rana, is facing two counts of aggravated first-degree harassment and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime, both felonies. He is also charged with 10 counts of making graffiti and one count of possession of a graffiti instrument, which are misdemeanors.

He appeared in court Tuesday afternoon in a long-sleeved dark green T-shirt, gray sweatpants, and sandals. He was represented by a Legal Aid attorney, who told Justice Rana that Mr. Nicholoulias was a retired “special needs teacher” who had lived in Montauk for six and a half years and in Hawaii before that. Mr. Nicholoulias uttered only a few words in answer to questions from the judge or his attorney, and his speech was strained and difficult to understand. 

Justice Rana issued an order of protection against Mr. Nicholoulias on behalf of two people who were identified only by their initials.

While state bail laws prevent him from being held in custody, the assistant district attorneys Sean Lorthioir and Patrick O’Connell, in the courtroom on Tuesday, requested a supervised release with GPS monitoring. His attorney argued that he was not a flight risk, as he had given a full written confession, and requested that he be released on his own recognizance, but Justice Rana granted the A.D.A.s’ request. 

“We will have a GPS monitor put on you to make sure that you don’t leave the jurisdiction,” she told Mr. Nicholoulias. 

At the press conference in Riverhead, Mr. Tierney described a coordinated effort between his department, the Suffolk County Police Department, and the East Hampton Town Police Department that involved sourcing surveillance-camera footage and quietly observing the suspect’s actions for several weeks after the initial antisemitic graffiti was discovered on Oct. 30. The arrest is “an example of what we can do when we all work together,” the D.A. said.

Surveillance footage revealed a vehicle, a white PT Cruiser with a roof rack and window stickers, in the vicinity of each instance of the hateful vandalism. Only one such vehicle is registered within East Hampton Town, and it was registered to Mr. Nicholoulias. On the night of the arrest, detectives recovered a can of black spray paint in the front seat of the car.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said after Tuesday’s press conference that the identification of the vehicle “narrowed down the search very quickly.”

He thanked Mr. Tierney and the Suffolk police for the pooling of resources in the investigation. He also complimented his own team, for “a phenomenal job with intelligence and knowledge of what goes on in Montauk, and that was instrumental.”

Mr. Tierney said Mr. Nicholoulias’s motive appeared to be “self-contained” and that he acted alone. “He wanted to send a message,” the D.A. said.

There has been a “dramatic increase” in hate crimes, and specifically antisemitic incidents, this year, especially in the last two months, said Suffolk County Chief of Detectives John Rowan.

“We’re doing outreach to the Jewish community,” Chief Rowan said, ensuring that any such incident “is going to be investigated fully.”

Mr. Tierney said he will present the case to a grand jury for an indictment in Suffolk County Criminal Court.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, center, detailed the arrest. East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo is pictured standing fourth from left. Christine Sampson
Mr. Tierney said detectives recovered this can of spray paint from the front seat of Mr. Nicholoulias’s PT Cruiser. Christine Sampson

Sign up to receive the best Underground art & real estate news in your inbox everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site