Facing up to 130 years in jail and $307,400 in fines…

MFONE (Daniel J. Montano) faces up to 130 years in jail and $307,400 in fines for damages done on an 18-month graffiti spree in Pennsylvania. Thanks to Joshua Freedman for the lead!

From graffnews.com [via: pittsburghlive.com]:

A Highland Park man admitted Friday that he caused nearly $300,000 in damage during an 18-month graffiti vandalism spree.

Daniel J. Montano’s guilty plea to 79 criminal mischief counts capped a week in which neighbors saw a rash of graffiti across the city that police say was intended to honor Pittsburgh’s self-proclaimed graffiti king.

Defense attorney William Cercone Jr. said Montano, 22, made a poor choice of friends and had a drug problem, which caused him to squander his artistic talent.

“He understands what he did is wrong,” Cercone said. “This is a hell of an eye opener for him. He has an opportunity to do something legitimate with the artistic talent he has rather than spraying cans all over buildings.” Jet Lafean, a member of Schenley Farms Neighborhood Watch, took offense at Cercone’s portrayal of his client as an artist.

“He’s not an artist,” Lafean said. “He has no talent. He’s an urban terrorist.”

Lafean said Montano’s graffiti spree spanned years, plaguing the neighborhoods of Lawrenceville, East Liberty, Bloomfield, Shadyside and Oakland.

Montano admitted causing $299,301.40 in damage, and prosecutors say they will seek that amount as restitution for the victims. He faces up to 130 years in jail and $307,400 in fines when he is sentenced July 24 by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski.

City police described Montano as the country’s most prolific graffiti artist. They said he’s caused nearly $750,000 in property damage from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, where his mother lives.

Montano has been behind bars since January. He was arrested a day before a show including his work at the Mattress Factory, a North Side museum for contemporary art.

Wearing a dark suit and shackles yesterday, he glanced at family members and a friend and smirked before being escorted out of the courtroom.

His parents declined to comment, and he did not speak in court.

Vandals this week spray-painted “Forgive” on three Lawrenceville properties in what police and community activists called a tribute to Montano.

“There is some indication that there’s some relation, just by the timing of it,” said Detective Dan Sullivan of the police bureau’s anti-graffiti squad.

Sullivan said graffiti is up significantly this week, particularly in Uptown and Lawrenceville. He said some of the work was done by one of Montano’s rivals — a crew known as FTC, or Full Time Crime.

Montano — best known by the tags “MFONE” and “MF” — was a member of the crews NSF (Not Strictly Freights) and JYK (Jive Young Kids), Sullivan said.

Tony Ceoffe, director of the community organization Lawrenceville United, said tougher sentences are needed to combat graffiti.

“No more of the slap on the wrist kind of thing,” Ceoffe said. “(Graffiti vandals) think county jail is a joke. They need a reality check.”

Check out the graffnews.com article directly here

Check out the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review press here

See MFONE’s graffiti here

See the WPXI news segment here

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