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Man Accused Of Vandalizing Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Venice Pleads Not Guilty

LOS ANGELES ( — A man accused of defacing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Venice pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony vandalism charge.

Angel Castro, 24, is due back in court on Aug. 1 for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to go to trial.

He faces up to six years in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Castro was arrested last Wednesday in Exposition Park and allegedly "admitted to his role in the vandalism of the Veterans Memorial Wall," said Ramon Montenegro of the sheriff's Transit Policing Division.

On May 25, Vandals sprayed silver paint over most of the 2,273 names of Vietnam veterans on the memorial, which is on the side of a building at Metro's bus yard on Pacific Avenue near Sunset Court, prosecutors said.

Castro allegedly uses the moniker LITER, which was one of the four names found at the scene, Montenegro said.

The other three are NONER, PHEB and SNAKE. Detectives have released surveillance photos of the person believed to be NONER, who authorities think is linked to a Bay Area tagging crew.

Anyone with information about the other three vandals is asked to call Transit Policing Division detectives at (888) 950-SAFE (7233).

The city and county have offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of all those involved.

Painted in the early 1990s, the mural has a message at the top reading "You Are Not Forgotten" and bears the names of the soldiers counted as prisoners of war or missing in action in Vietnam.

Though most, if not all, of the paint was removed by volunteers before Memorial Day, the decades-old mural had no protective anti-graffiti coating, so some of the original mural was destroyed in the process.

City Councilman Mike Bonin called the graffiti a "horrible insult to those who paid the sacrifice for their nation." He called on members of the public to provide photos to help in the restoration because the mural's artist, Peter Stewart, is deceased.


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