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ALLEGED NEO-NAZI ARRESTED FOR VANDALISM AT JEWISH CEMETERY

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Friday, February 01, 2008 — A 21-year-old Norridge man is facing hate crime charges in connection with the desecration of nearly 60 graves at a Jewish Cemetery, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Friday night.

Mariusz Wdziekonski, of the 7800 block of West Laurence Ave., Norridge, is in Sheriff’s Police custody facing charges ranging from criminal damage to property to a felony hate crime for the defacement of tombstones at Westlawn Cemetery, 7801 W. Montrose in unincorporated Norwood Park Township.

On Jan. 6, cemetery officials found numerous anti-Semitic words and signs spray painted on 57 headstones in the western portion of the cemetery.

A break in the case came earlier this week when Des Plaines Police, working on an unrelated case, obtained information about Wdziekonski’s role in the cemetery damage. He was taken into custody by Sheriff’s Police Thursday and later admitted to the vandalism.

Wdziekonski has acknowledged to being a member of a neo-Nazi organization known as “NSM 88." NSM stand for the “National Socialist Movement” and “88” refers to the eighth letter of the alphabet, “H.” The double H refers to “Heil Hitler.”

The Anti-Defamation League praised the Sheriff’s Department for its dedication to solving this crime.

“The Cook County Sheriff’s Department deserves high praise for its handling of this deplorable anti-Semitic incident which is a hate crime against the entire community,” said Lonnie Nasatir, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “The Sheriff’s Office took the graffiti seriously from the moment it was discovered and we are grateful to Sheriff Tom Dart for his leadership in investigating this incident effectively and professionally.”

“We are also confident the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will prosecute this offender to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr. Nasatir added.

Wdziekonski will be held in Sheriff’s Police custody pending final approval of charges and an appearance in bond court in 2nd District Circuit Court in Skokie.

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