KGB Graffiti Crew Sentenced

From a press release:

Five members of a group that tagged public and private buildings with graffiti have been convicted and sentenced in recent weeks on charges of destruction of property, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today. The activities took place between 2009 and 2011, with much of the damage done in Northeast Washington. Among other places, the defendants targeted a warehouse, liquor stores, grocery stores and even a church.

The defendants include Christopher Huff, 22, Andrew Marquesen, 34, and Edwin Merino, 22, all of Washington, D.C.; Jason Medina, 22, of Severn, Md., and John “Asad” Walker, 46, of Gaithersburg, Md.

Huff pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to two counts of misdemeanor destruction of property and was sentenced on January 5, 2012, by the Honorable Gerald I. Fisher. Walker was found guilty, also on January 5, after a trial and was sentenced that day by the Honorable Geoffrey M. Alprin. The others pled guilty last month to multiple counts of misdemeanor destruction of property and were sentenced by the Honorable Robert E. Morin.

According to the government’s investigation, each of the defendants used a distinctive moniker –or “tag ” – in their graffiti. Huff used the tag of “HUF,” Marquesen used “GATOR” or “G8R,” Medina used AERA,” Merino used“CHE,” and Walker used “MAR5.”

Search warrants, executed at the residences of Huff, Marquesen and Merino, led to the recovery of graffiti paraphernalia, including spray paint cans and sketch books containing graffiti art. Also, in post-arrest interviews with police, Huff, Medina and Merino admitted to carrying out various acts of illegal graffiti.

Huff, Marquesen, Merino and Medina received suspended sentences of between 360 and 540 days. Each was placed on two years of probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. The judges in their cases recommended that each defendant fulfill his community service requirement by participating in the Murals DC program, a joint venture begun in 2007 between the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the District of Columbia Department of Public Works. According to its website, the Murals DC program aims to “help replace illegal graffiti with artistic works” and to “revitalize sites within the community,” through graffiti art in a legal setting.

Walker, who was convicted of spraying graffiti on a Northwest Washington building in July 2011, was sentenced to a suspended term of incarceration, with one year supervised probation. He also was ordered to pay $713 in restitution to the victim of the crime.

In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of Metropolitan Police Department Officer Jonathan Jordan. He also praised the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Kalisha Johnson-Clark for her work in preparing the cases. Finally, he expressed his appreciation to Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Finkelman of the Fifth District Unit of the Superior Court Felony Major Crimes Section, and Jason Cunningham, of the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, who prosecuted the cases.

A resident replied to the message on the 5D listserve:

“This should teach these young men a worth while lesson.”

Do you agree?

39 Comment

  • The community service should be to clean up every single instance of graffiti that they tagged.

    • clevelanddave

      +1 Sounds like they got off light. Misdemeanor. Suspended sentences. Paltry $713 fine. About a months worth of community service. How many tens of thousands of dollars of property damage did they do over more than two years? How many tens of thousands of dollars of police and court time did they cost this city? Honestly, pathetic.

  • Is anyone else surprised one of the guys is 46? Doesn’t he have other, more productive, hobbies by now?


  • Nooooo! Not a church!

  • Young men?
    Why were 34 and 46 year olds hanging out with then teenagers tagging buildings?
    Didn’t they have anything else to do?
    That’s kinda sad.

  • So their sentences are to put more paint on more walls?

  • Teach them a lesson?? Yeah, you get busted for tagging the shit out of the entire city, so let’s punish you by letting you help paint murals. Sounds effective to me! Don’t forget to remind them of how special they are, and that they can be anything they want to be, as long as they try! Maybe even an astronaut!

  • So not a day in jail, even for the middle aged man? Thats messed up. You get 20 hours of community service for drinking under age. 200 for large scale vandalism.

  • I actually think litter is worse than graffitti in the city. I’d like to see fines for littering. I think respect for your community has a positive impact on just about everything else.

    • I hate litter, but at least it’s easier to remove.

      And unlike with graffiti, litterers don’t leave identifying symbols on their litter, making it hard to track them down after the fact.

      I thought supposedly there were fines for littering; there just doesn’t seem to be much enforcement.

  • Good to know that John “Asad” Walker, 46 is considered a young man.

  • These adult vandals have had plenty of time to learn to paint murals. They chose instead to display their scorn of art and their lack of talent all over our city with meaningless ugly tags. This is insane – the stupidest “punishment” possible, and the judges should be tarred and feathered.

    Save the spots in the murals program for the 11-15 year old kids who really need some direction.

    • +1.

      It would be more appropriate to make them remove or paint over their remaining tags… like the ones on the rolldown metal thing that covers the door of King’s Deli on the corner of Georgia and Quebec.

  • I don’t see how a sentence of incarceration helps anyone. He’ll probably just think he’s tougher and get more ideas for graffiti. And it costs taxpayers money.

    Making them clean it all off, preferably with nothing but tooth brushes and water, pay for damage, and do community service makes more sense IMHO.
    Anyone else?

    • Disagree. I’m disappointed that there was no incarcerative period for any of them, but particularly the guy who went to trial and, in addition to his crime, wasted some prosecutor’s resources to go through the process of a trial.

      Look, are these the most serious crimes we face? No. But they are crimes, nonetheless. These guys were caught and convicted, and considerable judicial, investigative, and prosecutorial resources went into making that happen. I’m sure lots of public works dollars have been wasted cleaning up after them over time, too. In other words, so they could get their rocks off, they’ve imposed pretty large costs on the rest of us. Do I think that a 46 yo who still vandalizes buildings is going to learn his lesson from 200 hrs of painting murals with kids? Not at all. He’ll be back using a different tag next week. No deterrence at all if you don’t go to jail and/or get hit with a significant financial penalty. I’d at least liked to have seen serious fines and/or restitution ordered for these clowns.

  • Slap on the wrist. Someone needs to make an example of these creeps who destroy other people’s property. I see historic buildings with 100+ year old unpainted brick get tagged and it makes me want to see these people flogged.

    Do they know that they are doing permanent damage to a community when they tag unpainted historic brick?

  • The two from the ‘burbs? Give us all cans so we can provide “art” for Gaithersburg and Severn…

  • I think these sentences are too light. The two older men should get at least some time in prison, 30 days or such. If possible, the two from Maryland should be banned from setting foot in the District. It makes me so angry that people from the suburbs are coming in and trashing our city!

  • Jeez…what do you have to do in this town to actually be punished for something?

    You tag the bejeesus out of tens of millions of dollars worth of private and public property and your punishment is to paint more “art” on buildings?

    This is ridiculous. Their tags are everywhere. The puishment should have been a toothbrush and a bucket of soapy water and the filming of a PSA directed at their “wannabes” stressing how tagging property other than their own homes is the height of loser-dom.

  • Now, I know we can’t kill ALL of them. That wouldn’t be right. But can we please just kill ONE of them? Maybe the littlest one? Or maybe that 46 year old guy? He’s obviously got nothing going for him, right? We need to send a lesson!

    The rest of them can get community service, spending their time sharpening our pitchforks in case somebody else commits a misdemeanor.

    • Killing them is a little harsh, don’t you think? Better to just cut off their thumbs so they can’t hold the cans any more.

  • If you get a mere 14 years for murder in DC and out by 35, these sentences make total sense.

    Not that this will make a bit of difference. There are so many folks out there tagging just between Fort Totten and Union Station alone, aka Graffiti City, it’ll never ever end, it will just get worse in this stanky town.

  • They got caught, they got sentenced, end of story. I think it’s rad though how upset this makes you people.

  • Why can’t cities like Washington and its neighboring suburbs be proactive in trying to solve this problem? Kids can’t buy cigarettes or alcohol legally. Why not limit the purchase of spray paint to adults over the age of 25 and require that they show a photo ID at the time of purchase? The city council has taxed plastic bags as a way of eliminating them and changing people’s behavior, so why not take a proactive step w/r/t graffiti, which is also a quality of life issue? If nobody tries new ideas, we will continue to have our neighborhoods tagged by these little creeps. Not all of them have 46-year old friends.

  • What I think we should really be doing is looking into the nature of the relationship between the 46-year-old guy and the three 22-year-old boys. Maybe there’s something far more punishable going on there.

  • As someone with experience on the matter I’m surprised by the light sentencing. Although I don’t agree with Graffiti Writers doing Jail time, 200 hours of community service painting murals is getting off very easy. Looking back on the past decade of DC graffiti sentencing, writers that have done similar amounts of damage have done months in jail after being arrested. It sounds like these guys muscled up with good legal representation… question I do have is what happened with this:

    “The 5D Vice Unit of undercover officers also served three search warrants on locations related to this investigation, and these led to the recovery of one handgun, drugs and drug paraphernalia, and of course, dozens of cans of aerosol spray paint.”


  • Hahahahahahaha
    What a waste of resources, MPD.
    Follow some murderers already. Go solve REAL crime.

    You readers are pathetic.
    But you got what you wanted didn’t you?! Kids houses raided, I think one even got grounded. What did you think the police could do? Duh.

  • you f&%$&ing outsiders and you crusade for a pristine DC! DC looks like it was delivered from a box. A ready to assemble city just add the worker ants! the once much appreciated grime, graffiti and character has been replaced with Potbelly’s and subway, oh and don’t forget nightlife well beyond anybodies needs. all so some imports from the mid west can feel like they got a big city experience with out the fear of having to associate with any natives.

    do use a favor and buy your condos elsewhere

  • Great. Another slap-on-the-wrist sentence from DC’s laughable courts. They can pat themselves on the back, feeling proud about their artistic and understanding sentences — which will help poor misunderstood youths like the 40-year-old defendants.

    It shouldn’t bother the judges though. They probably live in pristine Upper NW and drive in to the courthouse to pick up their 150k salaries. So they don’t have to bother themselves about the graffiti that those of us who live in NE and take Metro have to deal with.

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