Wednesday, March 09, 2016
A Hasidic man was indicted on hate crime charges for spray-painting over a religious figure, the Daily News has learned.
Two decades after Rabbi Menachem Schneerson died, the Hasidic community remains divided between those who believe he's still alive and those who believe he's dead, sources said.
Moshe Halperin believes Schneerson is the messiah and still lives, sources said.
Schneerson died in 1994 and was buried at a cemetery in Queens.
Halperin and two other believers allegedly broke into 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, where Schneerson lived until his death.
On Nov. 17, the burglars stood on milk crates to cover the security cameras with paper and painted over a statue of a gold leaf, according to the criminal complaint.
They allegedly used yellow spray paint to deface the "wooden religious organization emblem and the display that had significant religious scripture," according to the criminal complaint.
Because Halperin is against that sector's beliefs, he was indicted with burglary as a hate crime, making graffiti, criminal mischief as a hate crime and other charges.
Halperin's attorney Gretchen Brownscheidle entered a not guilty plea on his behalf in Brooklyn Supreme court on Wednesday.
A Hebrew interpreter translated the proceedings for him.
Halperin posted $7,500 bail at his criminal court arraignment and faces up to 15 years in prison.
A cleaning crew removed the spray paint the following day, costing over $250 in damage.
Halperin was ordered by Justice Danny Chun to turn over his passport since prosecutors believe he has plans to travel outside of the country and may not return.
He has another pending burglary case where he and two others broke into 749 Eastern Parkway to steal window blinds, according to the criminal complaint.
After court, Halperin and his friend were busted by court officers for taking photographs of the judge on a cellphone.
"He wasn't thinking," translated Halperin's friend to the captain who ordered them to delete the photographs in the hallway.
Signs are posted in the courtroom that warn — in English — that cellphone use is not allowed.
Chun let Halperin and his friend off with a warning.
"Let your friend know you will both be subject to contempt proceedings if caught again," said Chun in the courtroom.
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