The 28-year-old Rockville man arrested April 9 and charged with spray-painting swastikas and hate-based words on the exterior of a Rockville synagogue also has been charged with setting fires at a church in Wheaton.
Andrew Lemond Costas, along with 23-year-old Rebecca Matathias of Brookeville, was charged with second-degree arson, a felony, and defacing of religious property for setting fires at St. Catherine Laboure Roman Catholic Church in the 11800 block of Claridge Road, Wheaton.
In the church incident, Costas and Matathias were charged with setting five separate fires, according to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. Photographs by the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service showed a blackened exterior wall.
Second degree arson involves setting a willfull and malicious fire to burn the personal property of another that causes less than $1,000 damage. It carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $30,000.
In the previous incident, Costas was charged with malicious destruction of property, defacing religious property and damaging property of a group because of the group’s religious beliefs for painting swastikas and hate-based words at Tikvat Israel Congregation.
Vandalizing the synagogue is a misdemeanor offense.
Tikvat Israel Rabbi Marc Israel called Costas’ arrest “a sense of relief, I think, to the community to know that he will be brought to justice.”
The police took the matter seriously and the arrest occurred soon after the crime, said Israel, calling it “a positive sign about the community we have.”
Israel said the incident “was clearly an event that was planned purposefully,” adding, “The hatred he has shown through this event is a terrible thing.”
When asked if he would like to see Costas go to jail, Israel answered, “I do hope he is put away both to have an opportunity to reflect on the seriousness of what he did,” and also to show others there are consequences to such acts.
Matathias was not implicated in the incident at Tikvat Israel, where her family has been a member for many years.
The synagogue had the graffiti removed the next day.
Costas is in custody at the Central Processing Center in the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville awaiting review of his case, which is expected this week.
Matathias posted bond and was released.