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Cops: 5 students arrested in Syosset High hate graffiti case

Nassau County police said a white Acura MDX

Nassau County police said a white Acura MDX was at Syosset High School on Aug. 27, 2017, the day graffiti, including swastikas, was found there. Credit: NCPD

The arrests of five Syosset High School students in connection with hate graffiti spray-painted at their school over the summer may provide some closure but does not “heal the wound,” the district’s superintendent said Thursday.

On Aug. 27, swastikas, anti-Semitic writings, profanities and the name of the MS-13 street gang were spray-painted on walls, doors and windows at the rear of the school on South Woods Road, Nassau County police said.

“Although the investigation revealed this was not the activity of a gang or an organized hate group, we were saddened to learn that the perpetrators were instead allegedly members of our student body,” Superintendent of Schools Thomas Rogers said in a statement Thursday.

“While this week’s events conclude the investigation, they alone do not heal the wound,” Rogers said. “The actions of these few individuals cannot and will not redefine the values of this community. However, this incident serves as a reminder that the work of building a tolerant and inclusive school community is an ongoing shared process between our schools, parents and greater Syosset community.”

Rogers said the district cannot comment on any disciplinary action taken on individual students but “please be assured that the individuals responsible will be held accountable in accordance with the district’s Code of Conduct.”

All five arrested are 17-year-old Syosset residents, police said Thursday.

Two of the students, Christopher Belmonte of Gary Road and Julian Kim of Roosevelt Avenue, were arrested on Tuesday, police said. The other three — Angelo Madia of Southwood Circle, Andrew Harris of Candy Lane and Alexa Ronayne of Hillside Lane — were arrested Wednesday night, police said.

Police said Madia and Harris were each charged with third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree criminal trespass, and first-degree aggravated harassment. Kim is charged with third-degree criminal mischief and third-degree criminal trespass, while Belmonte and Ronayne are charged with third-degree criminal trespass.

Belmonte, Harris and Kim were all issued appearance tickets returnable to First District Court in Hempstead on Jan. 5. Ronayne is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 12.

Madia was arraigned Thursday and released on his own recognizance, according to online court records.

His attorney, Luigi Vigliotti, said he is confident that Madia will be exonerated and that the “real culprits” will be identified.

Belmonte’s father declined to comment and referred questions to his son’s attorney, who could not be reached Thursday night.

The other defendants also could not be reached and it was unclear if they had attorneys.

In his statement, Rogers said the district was “extremely grateful” for Nassau police investigators and “appreciative of the efforts” of Nassau prosecutors.

In September, Rogers told Newsday that similar graffiti also was found at the adjacent South Woods Middle School.

Because the middle and high schools share the same campus the vandalism at both schools is considered a single incident, and that is reflected in the criminal charges, according to the district.

With Nicholas Spangler and Ellen Yan

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the status of criminal charges in the vandalism at the middle school.

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