Andrew King said he was horrified when he walked outside and found two swastikas spray-painted across the front of his home in upstate New York. Turns out, police say, he did it himself.
King, who says he is Jewish, called police Feb. 10 claiming that someone had spray-painted the swastikas on his home overnight.
"I was horrified," he told the Daily Gazette last month, taking a breath before and shaking his head and calling the vandalism "heartbreaking" and "painful."
However, police in Schenectady, New York, said an investigation revealed that King was the actual vandal. The 54-year-old was charged with reporting a fake crime, Sgt. Matthew Dearing told BuzzFeed News.
King pleaded not guilty Tuesday before he was sent to county jail on $500 bail, Dearing added.
Although he claims to be Jewish, King has never successfully converted, Rabbi Matt Cutler of the Congregation Gates of Heaven told BuzzFeed News. Cutler, who said he's known King for more than a decade, added that he is no longer welcome at the local orthodox synagogue due to erratic behavior.
"This has brought a sense of shame to the community," Cutler said. "We knew there was something peculiar about the vandalism."
King had expressed sadness and outrage over the defacement to several local media outlets. He also told the Gazette that he supported President Trump and was ridiculed for doing so.
"People use a lot of excuses and lack civility by using Mr. Trump," he said. "I do take jesting about Trump and sometimes I had some hard attacks about him."
“Hate crimes can be devastating for communities, so it is unconscionable that someone would fake an incident for any reason,” said Evan Bernstein, the New York Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. “We have no idea why anyone would do something like this.
The US has experienced a surge in anti-Semitic rhetoric and incidents this year. Dozens of Jewish community centers and institutions have received bomb threats and vandals desecrated about 100 headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.
Although Trump denounced the wave of threats and attacks last month, his administration had been criticized for taking too long to do so.
King had told the Gazette last month that would "wring the necks" of whoever damaged his home and would leave the swastikas up to make a statement.
"This is a teachable moment," Rabbi Cutler said. "We need respect and integrity right now."
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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