Dimitrios Apolonides: NY Cab Driver Tried to Frame Muslims as anti-Semitic
Some people will do absolutely anything to fear-monger….
Newsday (New York)
November 4, 2010 Thursday
A former livery cabdriver from Brooklyn told authorities he littered his routes in Nassau with handmade anti-Semitic leaflets because he wanted “the Jews to find them to think it was the Muslims,” officials said yesterday.
On Tuesday, for the second time this year, detectives arrested Dimitrios Apolonides, 37, after tracing 1-by-3-inch notes bearing the slogan “KILL JEWS” back to the livery company where he once worked, police said.
Apolonides wished to create “alarm in the Jewish community” by leaving notes on the street in several Nassau communities since at least September 2009, including Rockville Centre, Port Washington, and West Hempstead, according to Nassau police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith. Similar notes also were found in Melville in March 2009, Suffolk police said, but no arrests have been made.
Apolonides is charged in Nassau with nine counts of aggravated harassment as a hate crime. Yesterday, he pleaded not guilty and was held on bail of $5,000. If convicted, the hate crime charges will be upgraded to felonies carrying a sentence of up to 4 years, police said.
Nassau police said they believed this was happening “across the tristate area.”
In July, New York City hate crimes detectives arrested Apolonides and charged him with aggravated harassment as a hate crime in connection with similar notes found near the Jewish Guild for the Blind on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, said an NYPD spokesman.
An NYPD spokesman said Apolonides was believed to have dropped dozens of notes around the borough. Apolonides was released without bail after his July arrest; the case is pending.
As in Nassau, city detectives were able to trace the notes to Apolonides when they discovered they were cut from a log sheet bearing the name of his employer, XYZ Car Service in Brooklyn, authorities said. Prosecutors at Apolonides’ arraignment in Hempstead yesterday said he faces similar charges of aggravated harassment in Westchester County.
Apolonides told Nassau officers, “I wanted the Jews to find them to think it was the Muslims,” according to a criminal complaint.
XYZ owner Mohamed Mowad said Apolonides was hired in 1994 and was a conscientious, polite employee, friendly with people from many backgrounds, including Jewish employees. Apolonides was fired at the time of his July arrest, Mowad said.
“You talk to him, he’s a sweetheart, always polite, he smiles,” he said.
Apolonides’ attorney, Michael Alber of Rockville Centre, said Apolonides is married and has one child. He questioned the timing of Apolonides’ arrest. “Some of these charges date back to 2009. … There is a substantial gap in time,” he said. “Why wasn’t he arrested in 2009?”