NYC man pleads guilty to vandalism for graffiti

Property damage topped $200,000

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A man who caused more than $200,000 in damage as a member of a notorious graffiti crew pleaded guilty Thursday to vandalism charges.

Ian Debeer, 22, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., had been charged with vandalizing city, railroad and private property at 100 locations. Prosecutors reduced some of the charges and withdrew one count in exchange for his guilty plea.

Mr. Debeer worked in a graffiti crew called "NSF," or "Not Strictly Freights," the same crew to which convicted graffiti vandal Daniel Montano belonged. Mr. Montano, who used the tag "MFONE," was sentenced in 2008 to 21/2 to five years in prison as well as probation, community service and a restitution of $232,000.

Mr. Debeer could face a maximum of seven years in prison if convicted for his felony count, which is for vandalizing city property with damage estimates of more than $13,000. He faces restitution of $47,000.

Mr. Debeer currently works as a doorman in New York City and lives in Brooklyn, said Patrick Nightingale, his attorney. Mr. Nightingale said he hopes Mr. Debeer can begin paying the restitution before his Sept. 7 sentencing and that his client will consider taking out a loan.

Police estimate that Mr. Debeer's graffiti caused $65,800 in damage to city property, $18,900 to railroad property and $127,400 to private properties.

Mr. Debeer continued to spray-paint graffiti after being arrested for it previously. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning called the thrill of graffiti vandalism "slightly perverted" and asked Mr. Nightingale if the behavior was addictive.

Mr. Nightingale said people in the graffiti community encouraged Mr. Debeer, but that he has since changed.

"He recognizes how self destructive it was," Mr. Nightingale said.

Mr. Debeer used the graffiti name "HERT," which began to appear in Pittsburgh in April 2007. Police arrested him in Etna for graffiti vandalism in May 2008, according to the criminal complaint. He had also been arrested in Buffalo in 2007, when he confessed to using "HERT" as his tag.

Officers then got a search warrant for Mr. Debeer's home. They seized items including 300 photographs of graffiti, about 500 cans of spray paint, painting accessories, breathing respirators and a sketchbook with "HERT" graffiti.

Mr. Debeer had been called Pittsburgh's No. 2 most-wanted graffiti vandal, second to Mr. Montano. He spray-painted murals at the Allegheny and Monongahela wharfs and Riverfront Park, among other places.

Judge Manning will allow Mr. Debeer to continue his bail until the sentencing.


Lindsay Carroll: lcarroll@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1985.


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