It took a Chicago jury barely two hours to convict Mariusz Wdziekonski, a member of America's largest neo-Nazi hate group, of defiling 57 graves at a Jewish cemetery in the suburbs.
The headstones were spray-painted with swastikas, phrases like "Aryan Power," and other Nazi slogans. One depicted a noose with a Star of David dangling from it.
"I'm really happy the jury saw him for who he was. It's good to see justice served," said Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Brown, one of the prosecutors in the case, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Wdziekonski testified in his own defense in the trial, saying that he was not a neo-Nazi but merely a collector of Nazi memorabilia.
Prosecutors disagreed, citing Wdziekonski's membership in the National Socialist Movement and showing pictures of Wdziekonski dressed as a German storm-trooper.
"He was immersed in that," said ASA Brown, as the Tribune reports. "He was proud of it."
The guilty verdict came down on Friday afternoon, during Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. At least one local religious leader saw some symbolic significance in that fact. From the Sun-Times:
"Hopefully, we can expose with some light -- during the season of light -- the evils in which this defendant was engaged," said Marc Jacobs, president of Temple Sholom of Chicago, which owns the cemetery in Norridge Park Township.
Wdziekonski will face a sentence of three to seven years, meaning he will likely serve little or no additional time -- he's been in custody for almost three years already, dating back to his January 2008 arrest in this case.
But as a Polish immigrant who came to the country in 2004, the felony conviction could lead to his deportation.
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