Michael Nicholoulias, 74, is charged with hate crimes for spray painting anti-Semitic graffiti, including Swastikas, across Montauk

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Michael Nicholoulias, 74, was arrested Monday while painting a Swastika
  • He is accused of painting anti-Semitic messages across Montauk, NY
  • ADL recorded 237 anti-Semitic incidents in the state this year

An elderly vandal has been arrested and charged with hate crimes for allegedly spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti across a posh seaside village in New York.

Michael Nicholoulias, 74, faces two counts of aggravated harassment and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime, both felonies, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said during a press conference.

Before his arrest on Monday night, investigators followed Nicholoulias as he was spray-painting a Swastika at a beach in Montauk, News 12 reported. 

‘He was being followed by members of our law enforcement team … who were able to observe him as he was bent over spraying a black spray paint Swastika in the vicinity of a park bench,’ Tierney said. 

During his hate-peddling rampage, Nicholoulias allegedly hit 14 separate locations with anti-Semitic messages including near Ditch Plains Beach in late October and on Bounce Beach Montauk last month. 

Michael Nicholoulias, 74, has been arrested and charged with hate crimes for spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas, in Montauk, New York

Nicholoulias is accused of painting anti-Semitic messages near Ditch Plains Beach in late October and on Bounce Beach Montauk last month

Nicholoulias is accused of painting anti-Semitic messages near Ditch Plains Beach in late October and on Bounce Beach Montauk last month

Before his arrest on Monday night, investigators followed Nicholoulias as he was spray-painting another swastika at a beach in the posh seaside village

Before his arrest on Monday night, investigators followed Nicholoulias as he was spray-painting another swastika at a beach in the posh seaside village

Hateful symbols, including swastikas, were also discovered outside Naturally Good Food and Sausages Pizza, two stores in downtown Montauk.

Nicholoulias pleaded not guilty and was released on Tuesday with GPS monitoring and two orders of protection. 

The anti-Semitic graffiti was first discovered in the East End hamlet on October 29. Additional hateful symbols appeared approximately a week later on fences and picnic tables near two businesses on Montauk Highway.

Photographs shared by Naturally Good Food on social media revealed multiple swastikas in black paint scrawled on tables, fencing, and an exit door.

Among the disturbing messages was a German phrase translated to ‘Jews die,’ accompanied by a two-feet-tall swastika outside the business.

On the food trucks at Ditch Plains Beach, the spray-painted slogan translated to ‘Free Palestine’ popped up, along with another swastika.  

At the time, Rabbi Josh Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons wrote on social media:  ‘I spent the morning in Montauk cleaning up the graffiti left on a Montauk store owned by Jews. It feels like I’m living Kristallnacht in 2023.’

Photographs shared by Naturally Good Food on social media revealed multiple swastikas in black paint scrawled on tables, fencing, and an exit door

Photographs shared by Naturally Good Food on social media revealed multiple swastikas in black paint scrawled on tables, fencing, and an exit door

Among the disturbing messages was a German phrase translated to 'Jews die,' accompanied by a two-feet-tall swastika outside the business

Among the disturbing messages was a German phrase translated to ‘Jews die,’ accompanied by a two-feet-tall swastika outside the business

The graffiti triggered a peaceful rally condemning the anti-Semitism sentiments in Montauk, according to local reports.  

Authorities said Nicholoulias, the owner of a white PT Cruiser appeared on surveillance footage near the affected businesses, was not on any hate group watch lists before. 

He allegedly admitted ‘targeting those businesses,’ which he believed to be Jewish-owned, reported by Newsday. 

East Hampton Police Chief Michael Sarlo said he’s pleased that officers were able to make a swift arrest in this case, with the investigation initiated on November 10. 

‘As much as the town of East Hampton and Montauk has grown, it’s still a very tight-knit community, a very diverse community,’Sarlo told the outlet.

‘And when something like this, on a global scale, hits home locally, it really touches a nerve within the community.’

On the food trucks at Ditch Plains Beach, the spray-painted slogan translated to 'Free Palestine' popped up, along with another swastika

On the food trucks at Ditch Plains Beach, the spray-painted slogan translated to ‘Free Palestine’ popped up, along with another swastika

The graffiti triggered a peaceful rally condemning the anti-Semitism sentiments in Montauk, according to local reports

The graffiti triggered a peaceful rally condemning the anti-Semitism sentiments in Montauk, according to local reports

Cities across the country have seen a rise in anti-Semitic activity since the Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel.

As of November 2023, New York City has experienced a 33% increase in reported hate crimes compared to the same period in 2022, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD). 

There have been 237 anti-Semitic incidents in the state of New York recorded by Anti-Defamation League. 

Newsday reported the number of hate incidents reported to Suffolk police had already exceeded the total from all of 2022 prior to October 7. 

There have been 95 hate incidents reported through November 30, including 42 cases that involved anti-Jewish hate, police said. 

‘We are seeing a dramatic increase in antisemitic hate crimes,’ Suffolk police Chief of Detectives John Rowan said. ‘The numbers we’re looking at are definitely way higher than they were last year.’ 

Nicholoulias will face at least four years in jail in convicted. His next court date is December 7. 

CrimeNew York

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