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Posted on: September 21, 2011

Top “Tagger” in Phoenix Receives Maximum Prison Sentence

PHOENIX, AZ (September 21, 2011) – His spray-painted moniker, “MAWD,” defaced at least 300 structures throughout the Phoenix metro area, making William Barajas (DOB: 3/10/91) the city’s #1 graffiti vandal -- and earning him a two-and-a-half year prison sentence, which was imposed today by Judge Sherry K. Stephens. Barajas has also been ordered to perform 300 hours of community service and make financial restitution to more than seventy-five victims whose property was damaged by his acts of graffiti.

“Anyone who thinks graffiti is a harmless crime without consequences in Maricopa County is making a big mistake,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “These acts of vandalism victimize entire neighborhoods by lowering property values and inviting additional crimes. That’s why we will continue to aggressively prosecute graffiti cases and prevent repeat offenders from continuing to damage our communities,” he added.

Barajas was arrested last May, after he was observed defacing a pole near 2700 W. Glenrosa Avenue in Phoenix. At the time, he was also wanted by Glendale Police for open burglary charges. During interviews with Glendale and Phoenix Police Detectives, Barajas confessed to over 300 acts of graffiti between October 2009 and January 2011. He was charged with one class 4 felony count of aggravated criminal damage and one class 5 aggregated count of criminal damage for numerous graffiti crimes. His pending charges included two counts of 2nd degree burglary and one count of attempted 2nd degree burglary.

On August 10th, Barajas agreed to plead guilty to both of the criminal damage counts as charged, stipulating to the maximum aggravated sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison in addition to community service and restitution. He also pled guilty to two of the three burglary counts, for which he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison (to be served concurrently to his other sentence) and ordered to pay restitution. Following his release from prison, Barajas will be on supervised probation for a period of three years.

Referrals of juvenile graffiti cases to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have spiked 46% in the last five years, while referrals of cases involving possession of graffiti tools have more than tripled. The County Attorney’s Office typically files formal charges on roughly 90% of criminal damage case submittals (A.R.S. §13-1604), with resulting sentences ranging from probation to two years in prison or longer.

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