Judge Larry Axelrood called Mariusz Wdziekonski, 25, "a bigot" before sentencing him today.
"You have this warped idea that you're going to be a hero to these
other bigots and white supremacists," Axelrood said. "You wanted to
inflict your hatred. You wanted to inflict your pain. You brought
shame to your family."
Wdziekonski did not speak during his sentencing at the Skokie branch courthouse.
Westlawn Cemetery in January 2008. One grave marker was spray-painted with a noose with a Jewish Star of David dangling from it, authorities
Wdziekonski, a Polish national, was arrested in February 2008.
Investigators at the time said he was a member of the National
Socialist Movement, which the Anti Defamation League has called the
largest and most active neo-Nazi group in the United States.
After his arrest, investigators found pictures of Wdziekonski dressed
as a German storm trooper and said he was fascinated with Nazi history and culture, Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Brown said.
Held on $250,000 bond since his arrest, Wdziekonski has already been
imprisoned for almost three years and could therefore be eligible for
early release in a few months. Prosecutors said he could be deported
Wdziekonski testified in his own defense during the 2 ½-day trial. He
denied being a neo-Nazi or white supremacist and said he was simply a
collector of Nazi memorabilia.
"It is a hate crime because he doesn't like a single group of people,"
Brown said. "I can't imagine anything that could be worse...especially
to the Jewish community. He doesn't even have the graciousness to say
he is sorry."
Axelrood said that while the U.S. is a free country where people are allowed to have hateful beliefs, they cannot act on them.
"You can keep you beliefs," the judge told Wdziekonski, "and you can take them to the penitentiary."