Artist or criminal? Graffiti charges spark debate

By COURTNEY POTTS
Observer-Dispatch

UTICA — Supporters say he’s an artist. Prosecutors say he’s a criminal.

In either case, Caeden Lauber will soon be behind bars after pleading guilty July 14 to a felony charge of second-degree criminal mischief for defacing the Job Ready building at 527 Oriskany St.

That building is just one of 26 that 19-year-old Lauber of Utica is alleged to have spray painted with graffiti, Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said.

Total damage: more than $38,000.

Jan Burke, Lauber’s mother, said the six-month jail sentence offered in the county’s plea agreement is excessive for a teenage college student.

“A lot of people are talking to me about this,” she said Thursday. “A lot of people are upset about this.”

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