Racist graffiti suspect pleads not guilty to felony, misdemeanors

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- A San Francisco man arrested on allegations he perpetuated a hate crime with racist graffiti pleaded not guilty in court Friday to one felony and at least two misdemeanor offenses.

John Schenone, 62, appeared before Judge Edward Torpoco in an orange sweat suit, handcuffs and dark-rimmed glasses after being arrested Tuesday on suspicion of spray-painting hateful graffiti in the city seven times, according to police and prosecutors.  

Police found the graffiti Sunday in the Portola and Bayview neighborhoods, police said.

"No more Chinese" was what one of the messages said, which police found at six locations, police and prosecutors said.

Schenone told the judge he could not afford an attorney so public defender Yali Corea-Levi agreed to represent him.

Corea-Levi asked the judge to release his client from custody because all other suspects in vandalism cases are released. But Torpoco denied the request because he believed Schenone to be a public safety threat.

Prosecutors agreed, arguing that the case is not a typical vandalism case and added that officers found four guns in Schenone's home.

Prosecutors said that they believe Schenone could get more.

Corea-Levi said that his client is not a threat to public safety and Schenone owns the guns. Corea said there are no allegations his client possessed any guns during the alleged spray-painting.  

But Torpoco told those in the courtroom that the court's "primary consideration" is the safety of the public and Schenone is charged with a hate crime. Torpoco made it clear he believes Schenone poses a public safety threat.

The judge set bail at $155,000 and deputies took Schenone in handcuffs from the courtroom after the arraignment.

Prosecutors told the judge there is no need for a stay-away order.

Schenone will appear in court for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Sept. 24. 

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