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Two indicted for hate crimes in Brooklyn

Officials spell out 100-plus charges in weapons, hate crime case
January 27, 2008 3:34:19 PM PST
Two men have been indictment on hate crimes charges stemming from more than a dozen anti-semitic spray painting incidents in Brooklyn last year. Ivaylo Ivanov is charged with drawing swastikas on cars, sidewalks and a synagogue across the street from his Brooklyn Heights apartment last September.

He was arrested last week after police found an arsenal of weapons and bomb making materials in his home.

The other suspect, Pavel Andreenko, is accused of spray painting swastikas in Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay last December.

Police said Ivaylo Ivanov is accused of spray-painting swastikas and spreading fliers reading "Kill All Jews" and "US hates you," in at least 23 locations - buildings, sidewalks and cars - in a flurry of activity last September.

He was already a suspect in those incidents when he called police on Jan. 20 to report a gunshot wound to his finger, and allowed responding officers into his apartment where they found the cache of weapons, said Inspector Michael Osgood, commander of the department's Hate Crimes Task Force.

At a news conference on Sunday, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said Ivanov had been indicted on more than 100 counts of criminal mischief as hate crimes and illegal possession of explosives and weapons, and could face 25 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.

"Hate crimes are attacks against the whole of society, not just the individuals or groups targeted," Hynes said. "These crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

At the same time, Hynes announced the arrest of a second suspect, Pavel Andreenko, in an unrelated case involving the painting of swastikas in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay last month. Andreenko was linked to the incidents through alleged phone calls he made to police and white paint found on his clothing, he said.

Hynes, several rabbis and local politicians lavished praise on police for cracking the Ivanov case. The suspect had pretended to be helping police solve the vandalism incidents when, Osgood said, an alert detective noted the "H" in the word "hate" on a flier was written in Cyrillic style - altering his status to that of suspect.

"These two cases are emblematic of the tenacity of the department's Hate Crimes Task Force," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters. "These are very, very difficult cases to investigate."

He said the unit put 100 detectives on the Brooklyn Heights case from the start and "had the suspect in the cross-hairs" even before the Jan. 20 incident. "They even met his dog, because one of the incidents had occurred in a dog run," Kelly said.

Lt. Mark Torre, head of the NYPD Bomb Squad, said the "improvised explosive devices," which included eight pipe bombs, were sophisticated and potentially lethal. One device was hidden inside a toy football, another was a bag of ball bearings designed to be suspended and set off by electrical current, he said.

The weapons included a sniper rifle, a sawed-off shotgun, two pellet rifles, two handguns and a fake assault rifle of German design, and at least two silencers.

Ivanov subsequently made statements implicating himself in the vandalism, police had said previously. They described him as a Bulgarian national who came to the United States 15 years ago. Adrian Lesher, the suspect's court-appointed lawyer, had said previously he was Jewish. Lesher did not return a call seeking comment on Sunday.

Ivanov pleaded not guilty at an arraignment last week on charges of aggravated harassment and criminal mischief as a hate crime, as well as criminal possession of a weapon and reporting a false incident. Bail was set at $300,000 bond or $150,000 cash.

Rabbi Serge Lippe, of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, called the Ivanov case "something of a nightmare, and when you see the capacity of the individual in front of you, the nightmare gets a lot worse."

But Lippe and others said the problem was not limited to attacks on Jewish institutions.

Recalling violence at college campuses, an Amish school and other sites, "we have a terrible situation in this country with regard to guns and bombs," Lippe said.

"Congress and the candidates need to do something to prevent hate crimes from escalating into the deaths of scores of children, and students and innocents."

"It is vital that this not be viewed just as a Jewish issue, this is a societal issue," said Michael Miller, chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which includes more than 60 organizations. He called the case a message to others who might perpetrate hate crimes that "the New York police department will find you, arrest you and punish you."


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