LONG ISLAND, NY -- Local police said a 63-year-old man is responsible for political graffiti that has been popping up around the village for months.
On Tuesday afternoon, Lawrence G. Nickel, a boat captain from Florida who lives in East Hampton, was charged with one felony criminal mischief count and 12 misdemeanor counts of making graffiti, as well as one count of petty larceny, also a misdemeanor.
"The charges stem from a four-month long investigation into a rash of graffiti throughout the village, which made derogatory references to President Obama and his policies," a statement from the East Hampton Village police department said.
Chief Jerry Larsen said Nickel caused more than $1,500 worth of damage to buildings, traffic signs and even the department's surveillance cameras that it put up to try and catch him in the act. Larsen said Nickel ripped down the cameras and threw them in the ocean.
Starting in May, Nickel used mainly black marker to write phrases like, "Obama P.O.S." and "Obama US #1 Eco Terrorist," the chief said. He also used a racial slur in a message he left on the East Hampton Movie Theater, according to the chief. Later, Larsen said, he placed bumper stickers around the village.
"We really have to thank the business owners," Larsen said. With their cooperation, police got video of the graffiti-artist that led police to identify him.
A description was given out to all of the officers and on Sunday morning around 4:30, Sgt. Rich Mamay spotted a man who fit the description walking around the village. Mamay spoke to the man and got his name and some information about him and they went their separate ways, Larsen said. Mamay turned his information over to the detectives, who followed up with Nickel and ultimately arrested him on Tuesday, he said.
"It was good police work," Larsen said.
Police released Nickel on $750 station house bail. He will be arraigned at the East Hampton Town Justice Court on Oct. 11.