Accused Fort Collins mosque vandal pleads guilty

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The man accused of vandalizing the Islamic Center of Fort Collins in March has pleaded guilty to charges related to the vandalism.

Joseph Giaquinto, 36, pleaded guilty Monday to felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor bias-motivated crime, the legal term for a hate crime. His guilty plea was part of a plea deal that stipulated he would be sentenced to wellness court, rather than jail or prison, on the felony charge.

Per statute, a bias-motivated crime occurs when someone knowingly causes bodily injury, uses words or conduct, or destroys property with the intent to intimidate another person because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or sexual orientation.

Wellness court is an option for defendants whose mental health issues affect their criminal behavior. People referred to wellness court receive therapy and psychiatric treatment while under supervised probation rather than serving time in prison.

Giaquinto will be required to complete three years of wellness court with a deferred sentence, which means he could be sentenced to jail or prison time if he does not meet the requirements of the court. He previously had his bond adjusted so he could also take part in a five- to seven-week post-traumatic stress disorder residential program in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

On the misdemeanor charge, sentencing is open to the court, meaning Giaquinto could face up to 18 months in jail and probation.

Fort Collins police said Giaquinto threw two large rocks through the windows of the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, followed by a New Testament Bible, on March 26. Police officers found the Bible sitting among shattered glass in the mosque’s prayer room. Giaquinto is also accused of overturning outdoor furniture, knocking over bikes locked in the rack and smashing plastic outlet covers. In total, police estimated the damage to the facility to be $3,000.

Giaquinto will be sentenced at the Larimer County Justice Center on Jan. 4, at which time members of the Islamic Center of Fort Collins are expected to make victim impact statements related to the vandalism.

coloradoan.com

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